The Henna Wars Initiate Love and Competition

Kamiya Rodrigues

“The Henna Wars” is a book about a lesbian Bengali girl who balances competition and her feelings. The book focused on interracial relationships and conflict between culture and identity.

Kamiya Rodrigues, Reporter

“The Henna Wars” is a powerful book that showcases a complex queer romance that runs deeper than just forbidden love. I feel that this book was a cute love story with deep ties into culture and competition. It really is more than just a romance book and is more complicated than it seems.

The book is about Nishat, a Bengali girl who comes out to her parents as lesbian despite the present idea that Muslim girls aren’t lesbians. Nishat doesn’t want to hide who she is, but she also doesn’t want to lose her family. Things get more complicated when a childhood friend comes back into her life. Flavia is beautiful and charming and Nishat falls for her almost instantly. However when their school introduces their business project, to start their own business, they both decide on henna even though henna is a part of Nishats culture. Throughout the heated competition, they are drawn closer together for better or worse.

I feel that both Nishat’s and Flavia’s separate cultures play a huge role in their lives as well as their feelings. While Nishat is Bengali, Flavia is a biracial Brazilian-Irish girl. Nishat being Benglai is one of the main reasons she chooses to do henna for her business competition. It’s part of her culture and is familiar to her. However, being Bengali does mean that her family is bound to be not very open to the idea of their daughter being lesbian since it is looked down on in Bengali culture. This complicates Nishat’s feelings without the support of her parents. Flavia is Brazilian and Irish and those cultures are more open to LGBTQ+ people. This makes it easier for Flavia to be more open-minded about her own sexuality. I feel that this complication in Nishats’ feelings adds more suspense to the book. The suspense of not knowing what would happen with her parents and how that affects her as well makes it more enjoyable.

I believe that competition plays a part in Nishats feelings when it comes to Flavia. Nishat is portrayed as a very competitive person, and this sometimes leads to her being one-track-minded when it comes to Flavia. She tends sometimes overthink Flavia’s actions because she feels it is to harm her business instead of her trying to be friendly. This only complicates her feelings even more since she isn’t sure what to think of her. I feel that Nishats feelings influence the reader’s opinion of Flavia as a love interest. Her own unsure feelings play into the questioning of Flavia and her true intentions. This made me feel uneasy about her throughout the book.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was a fun read and the light comedy mixed with real life issues was a good balance. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a good romance story that is a little diverse in comparison to others.