In May, to celebrate Asain American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, it was promised the next book would be written by an AAPI author. For June, Pride Month, LGBTQ+ representation became another important factor in choosing this month’s book. The only problem: none of the June book releases quite fit the bill. But “Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating” by Adiba Jaigirdar, published in May, did! And I can tell you, it did not disappoint. This book was delightful from start to finish, with great characters, well-formed plots, and just the right amount of high school drama.
The story starts with the introduction of Ishita “Ishu” Dey, a studious and focused girl with no time for drama, and her older sister, Nikhita, a college student and perfect daughter. The two were never very close, so it’s a surprise to Ishu that Nikhita would voluntarily call her. But she needs Ishu’s help, and fast. Then along comes Humaira “Hani” Khan, a popular girl with popular friends, and no time for boring Ishu. But as fate would have it, Hani finds herself enlisting the help of just the girl she always tries to avoid. Both girls have an agenda, and only cooperation and their Google Doc of lies can help them achieve what they need.
Ishu’s goal: to become head girl and prove to her parents she’s as good as — no, better than — Nikhita. Hani’s goal: to prove to her friends she’s really bisexual, which they can’t seem to wrap their minds around. Hani and Ishu will have to navigate fake dating and real feelings to pull this off. With what feels like the world against them, these two anything-but-friends will just have to fake it ‘till they make it, while making sure nobody learns about their secret along the way.
This book was so much fun to read, and was really everything it promised to be and more. The way the perspectives change each chapter is kind of confusing before getting fully acquainted with who’s who, but by the time the things start heating up, the shifts make reading the book way more fun and interesting. It’s also important to note that there are cultural terms an unfamiliar reader might not know, but a quick look-up will answer any questions, and knowing them will improve the reading experience even further.
All around, it’s a great book with well-balanced drama, romance, humor, and relevance. Encounters with various real-world issues many LGBTQ+ and/or BIPOC people face makes the story feel fresh, authentic, and real. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a chaotic-in-a-good-way, feel-good story with relatable characters and great writing.