Published by Nancy Paulsen Books on March 24th 2015
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This heart-wrenching novel explores what it is like to be thrust into an unwanted marriage. Has Naila’s fate been written in the stars? Or can she still make her own destiny?
Naila’s conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: She may choose what to study, how to wear her hair, and what to be when she grows up—but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating—even friendship with a boy—is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. But Naila’s vacation turns into a nightmare when she learns that plans have changed—her parents have found her a husband and they want her to marry him, now! Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif . . . if he can find her before it’s too late.
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Written In The Stars by Aisha Saeed is fantastic.
For much of the story, I felt heartbreak and rage at the situation that Naila’s parents forced her into…with a big exhale at the hopeful ending. I can’t speak to the culture of arranged marriages vs. forced marriages, but I definitely appreciate what this author has done in this book to educate me about what each of these mean. I loved learning more about the Pakistani/Pakistani-American cultures and lives just by reading this fiction title.
That being said, this book was hard to read at times because I know that what was happening to Naila is a real thing. (Here is a short interview the author did with BookPage that talks briefly about forced marriage for your FYI.) As the situation began to look more stressful for Naila, I began to feel stressed for her, just like some of the other characters in the book were feeling. These feelings came from horror at her situation and also because I was afraid that she would have to put aside her hopes and dreams at the insistence of her parents. The author did a great job at writing a story that tugged at my heart in huge ways.
My own world is so unlike this and it is a big luxury for me to not even realize that forced marriage exists. I know that some people may be afraid to pick up this story out of concern about the ending, but it ends on a hopeful note, so I hope people are encouraged to go ahead and pick up this title.
Also worth a mention is that the author packed Pakistani culture into the story: she included the landscape and weather as well as the food and the dress of the people of the region. I loved being able to pick up these details.
This story is great; it’s so compelling and I flew through it once I got started. I finished in no time. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind reading another book similar to this one – perhaps an adult fiction title, so the story could be expanded a bit and so I could spend a little more time in the narrative. I absolutely have my eye on the next title by Aisha Saeed.