Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating manages to be light and romantic, while simultaneously dealing with the issues and perspective of a culture that rarely sees the light of day in Western storytelling. The dual-perspective plot follows two Bengali (one Indian, one Bangladeshi) girls who are living in Ireland, and form a fake dating scheme in order to benefit themselves. Hani’s goal is to “prove” her bisexuality to her friends, and Ishu’s is to use the likeable, popular Hani in order to increase her social standing and become head girl at their school. But of course, as any fake dating story goes, the relationship built on false premises begins to turn into something decidedly real. While the core premise of the novel is basic, it manages to be unique in its development of the feelings between the two girls. Hani and Ishu are both characters that seemed fleshed out — Ishu being a sort of abrasive but firmly self-advocating girl who needs to live up to high parental standards, and Hani being sweet and kind at the expense of standing up for her culture and religion. They complimented each other well, their clashes made sense, and were overall a sweet, PG type of romance which furthered both their character arcs. My only issues with the book were that the pacing of the romance was slightly fast, and that Ishu’s Hindu-Bengali ethnoreligious background should have had more thought put into it than just a one-liner about her parents being into pujas while she didn’t believe in God.
By Teen Reviewer, Sreejita