*I was sent an arc of Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Hachette Children’s Group and Adiba Jaigirdar.*
“Everyone likes Hani Khan – she’s easy going and one of the most popular girls at school. But when she comes out to her friends as bisexual, they don’t believe her, claiming she can’t be bi if she’s only dated guys. Panicked, Hani blurts out that she’s in a relationship… with a girl her friends can’t stand – Ishu Dey.
Ishu is the polar opposite of Hani. An academic overachiever, she hopes that becoming head girl will set her on the right track for university. Her only problem? Becoming head girl is a popularity contest and Ishu is hardly popular. Pretending to date Hani is the only way she’ll stand a chance of being elected.
Despite their mutually beneficial pact, they start developing real feelings for each other. But some people will do anything to stop two Bengali girls from achieving happily ever after.”
Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating was a heartfelt and real read. As much as we all may love the fake dating trope it is not used in a cliche way here. Hani pretends to start dating Ishu because her friends refuse to believe that she is bisexual. The use of the faking dating trope was so important to this story and was executed extremely well.
Unless it was clearly stated it was easy to forget that this trope is what the book centres around. The chemistry between Hani and Ishu was so palpable that you forget they are not really dating.
I absolutely loved both characters and there was a clear difference in narrative. Often when you have books from split perspectives it’s hard to differentiate whose point of view you are reading from. However, the difference between Hani and Ishu was very easy to tell.
One of my favourite parts of this book was reading about Bengali culture and the differences in both characters’ family dynamics and religious beliefs. The latter being portrayed extremely well.
It was great seeing how even though Hani and Ishu had different religious beliefs they didn’t discount the other’s views. Hani felt like she could open up to Ishu about being Muslim and even felt comfortable enough to pray in her room. Comparing this to how Hani’s oldest friends would react to any showing of religion it was refreshing to read.
The handling of themes such as racism and homophobia was done extremely well and showcased the issues that can be faced surrounding these in a way that feels very timely right now. Adiba Jaigirdar never allowed characters that thought this way their redemption without them fully earning it.
By tackling these issues our main characters were able to grow and learn so much about themselves. Both Hani and Ishu helped the other to come to terms with the problems they were facing and they taught each other how a real friend should act.
Watching the connection build between Hani and Ishu was wonderful to read and I really feel like their story is not yet finished. Without giving away the ending of the book, I do feel like some parts were very rushed and I would love to see a sequel where we get flashbacks to those moments. Although this seems like it isn’t going to happen it is something I will hope for.
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