Rating: 4 Stars
Genre: Contemporary // Young Adult
Published: May 2015
My mother always says when you fight destiny, destiny fights back. Some things, they’re just written in the stars. You can try but you can never escape what’s meant to be.
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. Summary from Goodreads.
Can we just talk about how beautiful the cover of this book is? SO GORGEOUS.
I love reading about cultures that I don’t know a lot about. Which is why the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign is so important. I don’t know much about Pakistan. I know some about Muslim practices and arranged marriages but all I know is about a paragraph’s worth. Books like these expose teenagers (and adults who read YA) to cultures, ideas, and ideologies that they wouldn’t normally come across.
Life is full of sadness. It’s part of being a woman. Our lives are lived for the sake of others. Our happiness is never factored in.
Naila grew up in America but with strict Pakistani parents. When her parents find out she’s been lying to them and seeing a boy, Saif, behind their backs, they turn to the extreme. Packing the family up, they leave for a month-long vacation in Pakistan before Naila could even graduate high school. Before she knows it, Naila’s stay with her family turns into a nightmare.
Naila is an interesting character. She rebels against her parents, like most teens do, and have her own ideas & beliefs from growing up with more freedoms in American than she would have had in Pakistan. She’s a good kid but because of some of her “mistakes”, her parents don’t see her that way. This book truly showcases the horrors some women in the world go through just because they’re women.
I’m sad that Naila and her cousin don’t have more bonding time. Especially because her cousin is growing up in a hostile environment. I want to know more about the repercussions she faced becasue she helped Naila. The characters are all authentic and tangible, except for Saif. He felt a little flat to me but that’s probably because he’s really not in the book a whole lot.
This book is an easy read, like many contemporaries. The writing is easy to get lost in. The story is simple but in a good way. The only complaint is that I don’t think it explained the Pakistan culture enough. While I know the storyline is a fate that befalls many girls/women, it felt far-fetched because it wasn’t given enough context. The stakes were high in this book and it truly explores what happens when parents think they know best. Saeed explains more in her Author’s Note but I wish that was explained in the book itself.
Love is about the good moments, but it’s about holding on to each other during the difficult ones, too. Coming out on the other side, weathered but still holding hands, isn’t easy. It’s the most difficult thing there can possibly be, but I know now it’s the truest test of love there is.
A heartbreaking story you won’t be able to put down. I read this in a day because it’s short and the chapters go quick. I wish it was more fleshed out. I wanted to see more of what happened in the epilogue. I’m interested in the effects of certain events. I like seeing people put back together after they’re broken into a million little pieces. It shows strength. Even still, the book was worth the read.
Honestly, I could see this becoming a movie. I could vividly picture everything and I would love to see this story shown on the big screen. There aren’t enough Hollywood movies showcasing these themes & culture. But that’s a whole other problem.
Have you picked up Written in the Stars? Would you recommend any other books set in Pakistan or the Middle East?