Title: Written in the Stars
Author: Aisha Saeed
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books, 2015
Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary
Page Count: 277
My Rating: 3.5 stars
Where to Purchase: Amazon, The Book Depository, Barnes and Noble
synopsis (from goodreads):
Consider reading my thoughts before reading the 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.
This is actually a book I don’t recommend reading the synopsis for, as I feel it spoils a lot of elements of the book. I know I know.. I just posted the synopsis. But that is my review structure and I’m sticking to it.
First off, this was a very interesting story about a subject matter I had never read about before. It introduces the reader to the culture slowly, and I found a lot about it very fascinating.
While I felt for Naila and her plight, I also found her very naive at times. I saw the plot twist coming from a mile away, and it seemed obvious to everyone but her. I also found that due to how short the story was, many of the characters weren’t developed. I was hoping for more interactions with her family that made them more sympathetic, when we instead got a very stereotypical image of them and their beliefs. I kept waiting for them to get some redemption, and they never did. I found it very interesting that the author is in a happily arranged marriage herself, and chose instead to write about the horror’s surrounding that same topic. I was expecting this book to have a little more middle ground on the subject. While the situations she chose to depict are important, I think that is often the image we see of Middle Eastern culture here in the West, and I would have liked to see something different there.
Lastly, I also found the writing to be simple, and the plot to overall be wrapped up a little too quickly and easily. The writing allowed for the story to move quickly, but it was also very blunt. It made me feel like I was reading a script more than a story. I also felt that the conflict was wrapped up very quickly, leaving me reeling a bit. This story is very intense, and it is brought to a close rather easily. I also felt that the ending was a tad unrealistic for the story.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I found it to be a quick read about a subject matter that many of us don’t know much about. While I had some problems with it, I still think it is worth a read if you are interested.