Publisher : Nancy Paulsen Books
Genre : Young Adult | Contemporary
Page Count : 277
Synopsis : 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. . (From Goodreads)
Trigger Warning: Rape, physical and emotional abuse, starvation, drugging.
Oh boy, I don’t know where to begin with this review. This book touched me in such deep ways that I have no clue how to put those feelings into words but I’m going to trying my hardest because I adored it and I need everyone I know, their mother, thei neighbor and their neighbor’s dog to read it. I’m even mad at myself because I’ve had it for MONTHS but for some reason haven’t picked it up, I’m grateful to Ramadan Readathon for making me pick it up though.
The writing is so simple and easy to follow that at first I thought it was too simplistic, but as I read along I realized that the book wouldn’t have worked with more intricate writing, the themes are too heavy for that. I also noticed that as the story progressed and as things got worse and the MC got more desperate and hopeless, the writing became urgent and in a horrible way, beautiful. I loved the descriptions of places, food and people, they were really vivid and animated, they made everything more tangible.
Written in the Stars isn’t a happy story, it isn’t your cute arranged marriage working out at the end. It starts off light hearted and what not but once it hits the halfway point (give or take) it becomes a nightmare, something so intense and terrifying that no one would ever want to go through. This is parents starting off as wanting to keep their honor (which is very common in non-western cultures) but who end up being deceitful, and manipulative and tricking their daughter into a marriage she never wanted and not taking no for an answer. I shudder just thinking about it and thinking about girls going through it in real life, because this is more than a book, it’s the story of hundreds of girls around the world.
This book hit me harder than I ever expected, because truth is I didn’t expect it to be as true to reality as it was. I felt trapped, and frustrated because the situation was so bad and I just read about it helplessly because everything Naila went through was horrifying. Even with the themes being so heartbreakingly realistic, I loved the way the author wrapped up the story with a hopeful, light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel kind of ending.
Naila is such a strong, resilient character. I really, genuinely loved her and as much as I hated how much her traumatic experiences changed her, it was just what the book needed to stay true to reality (I feel like I said that a lot). At the start she was this girl who’s full of joy and who cares about the little things in life to become brutally mature. What I loved most of all is that through it all, she never lost hope in finding away out of her misery.
All the side characters felt entirely like real people. There was depth and thought put into each and every one of them and that mission was a success. One thing I have a deep appreciation for and that made me fall in love with the book even more is how nothing was sugar coated, the author depicted things as they are, as people go through them.
I know this may come as a cultural shock to people who have never been exposed to arranged marriages, but they usually aren’t forced -I feel like this needs to be specified- the two have to agree to being set up, so what’s in this book is an extreme that no one wants to ever be in. And I love how in the author’s note, Aisha reminded people of that, herself being in a happy arranged marriage. It was a nice touch to remind people that arranged =/= forced.
That’s it until next time.
Did you read Written in the Stars? If so, what did you think?
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.