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Not to be Overlooked

By Nayisha Patel and Ellen Freeman


Not to be Overlooked introduces a variety of wonderful but lesser-known books to assist readers in finding their next great reads. This week’s column covers a review of The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer and Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar.


The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer


Meg Wolitzer’s The Female Persuasion is an insightful and engrossing examination of ambition, mentoring, feminism and the challenges of female empowerment. Greer Kadetsky, a young woman navigating college and early adulthood, Faith Frank, a charismatic and significant feminist figure, Cory Pinto, Greer’s lover and Zed Eisenstat, Greer’s best friend, are the novel’s four primary characters.


Wolitzer makes incisive insights about gender dynamics and societal expectations in her writing, which are clever and perceptive. The plot develops against the backdrop of modern feminism, exploring the changes in women’s roles and the difficulties they still encounter. Wolitzer explores the complexities and contradictions of the feminist movement through the characters she creates, posing challenging queries about activism, privilege and the proper balance between individual aspirations and social change.


The novel’s main protagonist, Greer, goes through a dramatic shift. She enters the arena of the feminist movement as a frightened and unconfident young woman after meeting Faith Frank by coincidence. Greer’s path of self-discovery, which was started by her wish to change the world, is both realistic and motivational. In order to underscore the difficulties and sacrifices frequently experienced by women who follow their goals, Wolitzer vividly conveys the nuances of Greer’s relationships, especially with her partner and closest friend. The mysterious feminist leader Faith Frank is a fascinating figure. Wolitzer creates a nuanced portrait of a woman who has committed her life to fighting for women’s rights by deftly fusing together her personal past, her goals and her shortcomings. Faith’s mentoring of Greer is a main story thread that explores the power dynamics and ethical quandaries present in mentor-mentee relationships.


The Female Persuasion is a socially and politically contentious book which addresses important themes of the day. It portrays significant issues regarding feminism, allyship and the interactions between privilege, power and gender. Wolitzer’s ability as a storyteller shows as she skilfully balances the political and the personal, conveying the complexity and ambiguities of modern feminism.


Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar


Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating is a young adult contemporary novel with a sapphic enemies-to-lovers romance. Adiba Jaigirdar is the author of several other young adult sapphic romances: The Henna Wars, A Million to One and The Dos and Donuts of Love.


When Hani comes out as bisexual to her friends, they immediately doubt her. Because Hani has only dated boys, her friends decide that there is no way she could actually be bisexual. Faced with this negative reaction, Hani feels she needs to prove her sexuality to her friends – so she tells them she is dating Ishu, a fellow student who is much more focused on getting straight A’s than dating. When Hani explains her predicament to Ishu, she agrees to a fake dating plan on the condition that Hani helps Ishu to make more friends, and become popular enough to win the upcoming head girl election. Hani’s friends soon get jealous of the amount of time she is spending with Ishu, and Hani is forced to decide between them and the girl she is quickly falling for.


This book also deals with toxic friendships very well. I really struggled to read the scenes with Hani and her friends the first time I read this book, because it felt so realistic. This is an aspect of growing up that I don’t think is covered in young adult novels nearly enough. Friendships can be just as hard to navigate as romantic relationships, and I think Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating covers both these topics in a really authentic and realistic way.


If you’re looking for a heart-warming queer romance with realistic and loveable main characters, I’d highly recommend you give Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating a go!



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