Title: Written in the Stars
Author: Aisha Saeed
Published: 03 May 2016 | Speak
Date Read: 14 April 2017
A heart-wrenching tale of forbidden love
‘A wonderfully complex love story unlike any you’ve read before. Saeed has given a novel that is both entertaining and important.”—Matt de la Peña, New York Times bestselling author
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.
Written in the Stars is a touching and moving story about a Pakistani girl and her conflicts with her parents and their culture.
“You can choose what you want to be when you grow up, the types of shoes you want to buy, how long you want your hair to be. But your husband, that’s different. We choose your husband for you. You understand that, right?”
Nalia is a Pakistani girl living in the USA. Her parents are cool with her going on a normal American High School and even being friends with a girl that is an American. But one thing her parents instilled in Nalia’s mind is they are going to choose who she’s going to marry. However, what Nalia’s parents doesn’t know is that she’s already in a romantic relationship with another Pakistani boy from her school – Saif.
“Getting to know family I’ve never met, exploring a part of the world I’ve never seen-suddenly spending a month in Pakistan doesn’t feel daunting at all.”
After Nalia was caught with Saif on the day of their senior prom, her parents took her and his brother on a month of vacation in their home country Pakistan. This is actually an interesting part of the story as we get to see and picture the local Pakistani life. But then a month was extended for a week then a week then another week…
“My uncle locked me in a barred room. My parents drugged me and forced me into this marriage. I didn’t think anything could get worse, but today, for the first time, I know what it feels like to be completely broken.”
Written in the Stars is a very heavy and heartbreaking story for me. I find myself getting teary-eyed and even shedding a tear or two with everything that happened. I can’t believe how things went thru. To force her to marry someone is something; but to let her marry someone while she’s drugged is so much worse. That is just too drastic! I understand cultural stuff with arranged marriages, but does that really have to happen? Can parents be that cruel? Nalia was given no choice at all.
Nalia is a good narrator. Her story shoots straight to the heart. I really admire her strength after everything that happened. The strength that she has to make it and live each day regardless of the circumstance that she’s currently in. Yes, she could’ve done more to get out of the situation that she’s been into but in the end, she’s just a normal teenager who relies on her parents and relatives for everything – not knowing these people she’s relying into are the one’s who’s going to push her into this unwanted life.
The pacing of the story was fast. The pro to that is I easily finished reading the story. The con is that it seems to skip several details that I’m really interested to know more about especially on the latter part of the story. Plus, the last chapter seems to end abruptly as well. Though there is an epilogue, I didn’t get the chance to really appreciate it because the last chapter left me a bit hanging. It seems that the epilogue was included just to say that the story did have a happy ending.
Another thing is, I would’ve wanted to know more about Saif – aside from him being Nalia’s boyfriend. It would’ve been nice if we could read about his side especially during the time he and Nalia were separated.
As the author said on the notes at the end of the book, though Nalia’s story was fictional, the reality of forced marriage not only in Pakistani culture is very true. I just hoped for a lighter way of telling it.
In all, Written in the Stars is a very compelling, thought provoking and eye opening story that your diverse hearts will surely appreciate.