15 must-read YA book releases that will make staying inside a little easier this May

Forged in Fire and Stars by Andrea Robertson. Image Courtesy Penguin Random House
Forged in Fire and Stars by Andrea Robertson. Image Courtesy Penguin Random House /
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The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar

Adiba Jaigirdar’s debut novel hits shelves this May, and YA contemporary fans won’t want to miss out on The Henna WarsLikened to novels like Sandhya Menon’s When Dimple Met Rishi and Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens AgendaThe Henna Wars is the sort of rom-com that’s absolutely perfect for springtime reading.

The Henna Wars opens with our leading lady, Nishat, in quite a predicament. After telling her parents that she’s a lesbian, their response is that “she can be anyone she wants” — you know, except a lesbian. That’s off the table. According to the synopsis:

"“Because Muslim girls aren’t lesbians. Nishat doesn’t want to hide who she is, but she also doesn’t want to lose her relationship with her family. And her life only gets harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life.”"

Said childhood friend is Flávia, and it takes little time for Nishat to start falling for the other girl. Of course, Nishat’s home life makes this a complicated situation — and a school project revolved around creating a business only makes matters worse. When both girls decide to create a henna business, Nishat is forced to confront cultural appropriation alongside her sexuality.

A coming-of-age story centered on identity, The Henna Wars is poised to tackle large-scale and personal topics with its narrative. It’s exactly the kind of YA contemporary the genre needs, and we’ll be making sure to grab a copy this month.

The Henna Wars will be available in print, ebook, and audiobook formats on May 12.