Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating: Book Review

i don’t have any words of criticism for this book. as a bipoc queer girl, i felt so seen in the characters and dialogue of this book. did i cry at 2am simply because one of the main characters is getting the support they needed from a family member? yes. and i would do it again.

Image: cover of Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating

Title: Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating

Author: Adiba Jaigirdar

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Synopsis: Everyone likes Humaira “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 invalidate her identity, saying 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 absolutely hate—Ishita “Ishu” Dey. Ishu is the complete opposite of Hani. She’s an academic overachiever who hopes that becoming head girl will set her on the right track for college. But Ishita agrees to help Hani, if Hani will help her become more popular so that she stands a chance of being elected head girl.

Despite their mutually beneficial pact, they start developing real feelings for each other. But relationships are complicated, and some people will do anything to stop two Bengali girls from achieving happily ever after

Links: Goodreads // Book Depository

Rep: bipoc (specifically bengali), queer (specifically bi), muslim

TW: interpersonal racism, institutional racism, biphobia, cishet people saying that heterophobia is a thing 🤡, islamophobia, sh!tty mean girls

let’s start with the premise of the story. it gives me to all the boys i’ve loved before but sapphic and set in ireland and there’s no letters and there’s just no boys involved. in fact, there is a grand total of five men in this entire book (the two MC’s respective dads, and these 3 annoying cishet white boys who are just background characters and rarely mentioned) and i loved it. the book is more family- and close friends-based, and the MCs go to an all-girls school so NO MEN. yes i am very happy at that fact.

anyways, i’m getting off track. ishu is from a very academically competitive family, and she is always overshadowed by her perfect sister. until her sister isn’t so perfect, and she decides that it’s time to show her parents that she can be the better sister (i smell sibling rivalry. oh wait, that’s my own sibling rivalry… yes, i felt called out). and meanwhile, hani has two (very toxic) white friends, and they are just so snotty and not understanding and I KNOW SO MANY PEOPLE LIKE THAT IRL. they don’t understand hani’s obligations towards her culture, towards her religion, or towards her family. and they don’t even try to learn! they constantly gaslight her into believing that she should make sacrifices to maintain the friendship, by breaking religious rules and family promises. and then hani comes out as bisexual, and they invalidate her at every step. what does hani do? she blurts out that she has been dating ishu (who the friends hate), and then it escalates to a whole lot of pigeonholing and subtle homophobia and ARGH i want to punch the ‘friends’ in the face.

there were so many scenes and dialogues that i have heard and felt throughout my life, as an overseas chinese. the white friends lowkey insulting your parents just because they have an accent? felt that. asking to be invited to cultural events just to look bored and make you feel bad for not spending time with them? yes, that too. and then blaming you for spending time with your family at said cultural events? YEPPERS. so yes, this book appealed a lot to my pathos, and GOSH I LOVED IT.

“how come you never invite us to your ‘bengali’ things?”
because you’re not bengali seems a little too direct. but it’s also the truth.

this has to be my favorite quote of all time. say it with me now: if you are not openminded towards my culture and openly invalidate, i will no longer invite you to my cultural events. and sometimes, you just have to be OF SAID CULTURE to participate.

“you probably shouldn’t go about telling people you’re bisexual when you don’t have any experience. hell, even i’ve kissed a girl, and i know i’m not gay. it’s just a little demeaning if-“

i’m going to punch someone. not the bisexual invalidation while being THAT homophobic sorority girl who loves drunk kissing other women!!1! sometimes i hate it when people.

i think this book was a very truthful depiction of high school, and coming to terms with your own identity. people mess up, and there’s often no good reason behind it, and no easy way to have it solved. systematic racism happens in pretty much every school, and there’s really no way an individual from a minority group could turn the system around.

THE MAJOR CONFLICT FRUSTRATED ME, SIMPLY BECAUSE IT WAS TOO TRUE. things like that happen in schools, really often. in the end, bipoc will often have the disadvantage, simply because it comes down to who has the power (and surprise: it’s not usually the bipoc).


in conclusion: i simply adored this book. please PREORDER HANI AND ISHU’S GUIDE TO FAKE DATING; EXPECTED PUBLISHING DATE 25 MAY 2021. this book was a perfect light read with a fast pace, and helped overcome my reading slump. now, i’m off to read more bipoc queer books because THATS THE GOOD VIBES.

thank you page street publishing for my eARC! all opinions are my own. the quotes i used may not be included or the same in publications.