A young adult novel about two Bengali high school girls who decide (for different reasons) to pretend that they’re together…which of course ends up with them falling in love. What I liked most about this book were the descriptions of how Hani and Ishu try to meet their parents’ expectations, explore their relationship with religion (Hani is a Muslim), reflect on their dreams and redefine what is important to them.
Ishu grows up in a home where science comes first, and parents are confident that their daughter will study medicine, preferably at Cambridge. When they find out that her older sister is dropping out of college, they put even more pressure on Ishu to prove that their decision to move from Bangladesh to Ireland will not be in vain. Hani is convinced that no matter what, her friends stand by her – she only later realizes how many things she has to hide from them in order to be accepted (her faith, sexual orientation, her taste in food, even.) And although at first the relationship is just for show, the teenagers soon discover that together they can be themselves for the first time.
Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating it is a light, easy read… but it touches on so many important issues (for example, I really liked Hania’s warm relationship with Islam) that it gives a lot to think about. And when you finish reading it, makre sure to read The Henna Wars by the same author!