Title: Written in the Stars
Author: Aisha Saeed
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Published: 24 March 2015
This book was heart-wrenching and at times, hard to read. As it should be! If you read this book and are not horrified and angry, then I don’t want to know you.
Naila grows up in Florida and is a typical American teenager. She goes to school, makes straight A’s, is planning on going to university in the fall, and plans to be a doctor. Yet, her conservative immigrant parents will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her, and until then dating, and even friendships with boys, is forbidden.
Naila breaks the rule by falling in love with Saif, who is also Pakistani and Muslim. But his family was shunned from the rest of the community when Saif’s older sister married a white man and her parents didn’t mind. Naila is caught out when her and her best friend plan for her to sneak out to go to prom. Her parents decide that all of this was their fault as they didn’t teach her enough about their culture. They decide to plan a trip to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. What Naila doesn’t know is that her parents are planning for her arranged marriage and soon Naila’s life is a nightmare she cannot escape.
I seriously read this book in about 3-4 hours one night due to it being a short book but also needing, desperately needing, to know what happens to Naila.
At first, Naila and her family’s trip to Pakistan seems fine. They are all enjoying the time with family and discovering her family’s culture. Yet, she is meeting with suitors and she doesn’t realize it. Also, everyone in the family is aware of what is going on except for Naila. Her family’s trip back home keeps getting pushed back making Naila worry for her future. Finally, Naila’s cousin tells Naila what is going on and they come up with a plan for Naila to escape. Yet, Naila’s uncle discovers her and she is sent back home. Not only is she locked into her room but the family actually drugs her to keep her complacent. This was one of the worst parts to read, and almost made me physically sick. They keep Naila this way until the day of her wedding.
She is then left completely alone in a country she doesn’t really know and in a marriage she doesn’t want. Thankfully, the man she married is pretty decent, as he doesn’t touch her nor force her to do anything. Her in-laws are not as kind to her as her husband, but she decides to give this the best chance she can, as this is her life now (also her mother-in-law basically tells her that if she does get out of this marriage her uncle will probably kill her and honor killings in this situation are perfectly legal).
But, one day Naila sees Saif at the market, and him and his dad are here to bring Naila home. They do end up bringing Naila home, and once she does, her and Saif’s relationship is a bit rocky again but they do end up together. Saif’s parents also become Naila’s “adoptive parents” and in the epilogue we do see that Naila’s parents are coming over for dinner for the first time since this whole experience.
Again, this book was heart-wrenching and horrific to read, but also so, so important. The reason that I didn’t give this a full five-stars was just due to the epilogue chapter where everything seemed too nicely wrapped up. Aisha Saeed gives a beautiful and needed book that more people need to read!
Happy Reading Darlings!