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

It has been 155 days since I last wrote a book review on my book blog.
Given this, I figured that I should probably write another book review.
I finished reading Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating on Tuesday and I LOVED it! I’m super behind on all my goodreads reviews and since I haven’t reviewed many books on my blog recently, either, I figured that I’d review this one.

Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating | Abida Jaigirdar

Published May 25, 2021

352 pages | ebook

Content warnings: Racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, toxic friendship, gaslighting, parental abandonment. (from the author’s website)

When Humaira, or Hani, comes out to her friends as bisexual, they invalidate her identity, saying that there’s no way she could know, never having kissed a girl. Wanting her friends to know who she really is, she tells them she is in a relationship with a girl–with Ishita (or Ishu).
Ishu has never been popular at school or with Hani’s friend group–she’s a total overachiever and gets set on becoming head girl to make her parents happy. There’s just one problem…to become head girl, you need votes from the other students, and Ishu is not exactly popular.
And so Ishu agrees to help Hani show her friends that she really is bi as long as Hani helps her become more popular. The two girls are complete opposites, but can they get along well enough to pull them off and help the other?

All summaries are my own unless otherwise stated. Parts of the summary may be borrowed from goodreads.

I was super excited for this book, coming into it, but I was also a little nervous. I’d just read The Henna Wars, by the same author, in May and I enjoyed it. I was really looking forward to reading another of the author’s books. However, I’d also read two books in May that had fake dating plots. They were the first two books featuring fake dating that I’d ever read and they really let me down so I was a little worried to start this one. But I actually ended up really enjoying this one, which is somewhat of a relief.

I loved our main characters, Hani and Ishu. I feel like they had very distinct personalities, which was really nice because oftentimes when books have dual POVs the characters end up sounding pretty much the same. Plus, they were very different people, which led them to having a very interesting dynamic at first as they struggled to get along with each other, which leads me into my next point.

This entire book explores relationships in a lot of different ways. The most prominent relationship, of course, is the one between Hani and Ishu. I loved the development between them, as they start with not liking each other very much, given how different the two of them are, and then begin to become friends before getting feelings for each other. In a lot of books, development is a rough spot because it really is hard to do it well. However, this book did it perfectly. It wasn’t obvious that the two were developing because it was so smooth, each new step in their relationship just flowed through. It was happening right before my eyes and yet at one point I just realized, ‘oh, they’re becoming friends now’.

I think that the relationship that I liked most though was Ishu’s relationship with her sister. At the beginning, Ishu doesn’t trust her sister at all. She thinks that she’s going to rat to their parents or use any information she gets as a bargaining chip. But as they talk periodically throughout the book, Ishu begins to see that her sister actually just wants to help her, that she’s changed a lot in her time at college and they develop a very special bond.

The other relationship that was pretty big in this book was Hani’s relationship with her friends. It was very clearly a bad relationship, which Hani definitely knew and was realizing throughout the book, but she still held onto them for a large part of the story. I think this is actually a really good thing to see in books because often when your friend or friends are toxic or just not right for you, you do sort of acknowledge it but it’s very hard to leave them. Especially with Hani, who has been friends with Aisling and Deirdre (or at least one of them–I forget who) since she was very young, it was hard for her to come to terms that they were not good friends and she was probably better off without them.

Another thing that I think this book was very good for was showing culture from different places in the world. Hani’s friends believed that Hani and Ishu were just the same culture and the same ethnicity because they were from the same part of the world, but this was not true. The book did a great job of highlighting the differences between their cultures and I learned a lot! Plus, I think that Jaigirdar does a great job of putting religion and culture into her books as just…a part of the characters’ lives. It’s not the main part of the book, it’s not something only added when it helps the plot, it’s just there. Also, when Hani’s father is talking about how him and Hani’s mother sort of pushed their culture to the background when they moved to Ireland because there wasn’t really anywhere/anyway to practice it was a really good add because it definitely shows some of the sacrifices that people make when they immigrate. I think that that part also showed, however, how much certain parts of the world have changed in a kind of short amount of time. Of course it’s still not perfect, there are definitely so many things that still make people from different cultures not feel at home in different countries, but it really has changed quite a bit since the time that our parents were kids.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book–I liked it better than The Henna Wars, even! I would highly recommend that anyone read this book!

Some other reviews of this book that I enjoyed were Siena’s @Booksophobia, Ruby @Ruby Reads and Reviews and Isha @Paperback Tomes. Plus, The Quiet Pond did a guest discussion with the author, on family in YA!

Have you read Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating? What did you think about it? What are some other fake dating books that you’ve enjoyed? (I want recs!)
Thank you so much for reading and as always, stay safe and keep on reading!