Book Talk: Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

Book Talk: Written in the Stars by Aisha SaeedWritten in the Stars by Aisha Saeed
Published by Nancy Paulsen Books on March 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

Naila’s parents are immigrants from Pakistan and Naila has grown up always knowing that arranged marriage is part of her future. They’ll let her choose other paths her life might take but it’s their belief that she should trust her parents to select a suitable match for her to marry. Her parents have been very strict with her (no school dances or going to parties) and do not allow her to even have friendships with boys. She falls in love with Saif anyways (who was once a family friend) and has been seeing him behind their backs — something they only have to endure for a little bit longer when, unbeknownst to her parents, they will be going to the same college and can be together more often. Before that can happen, Naila’s parents find out about her and Saif and beyond mad, they whisk her off to Pakistan under the assumption that it is a vacation to visit family but really they want to find her a husband immediately.

a2WOW. *wipes sweat from brow*

a4

One of the many reasons I love reading is that sometimes I get to experience things that are nothing like my life and I get to learn more about the very big world I live in. Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed was definitely one of those reads for me. Very eye-opening!

Here’s the 3 things that made this an excellent read for me:

1. I loved learning about Naila’s culture & also the difference between arranged vs. forced marriages through different examples in the story: Naila is Pakistani and lives in the United States. It is a part of her culture to place her trust in her parents to pick out her husband — an arranged marriage. I don’t really understand the appeal of arranged marriage because it’s definitely not something I grew up with but I respect it as a cultural practice and it was interesting to learn about it. I think Aisha (who herself had an arranged marriage and is so happily married) did a good job of showing the side of arrangement that is contrasted with the more forced/coerced marriage that Naila ended up in. I think it definitely helped my understanding of the practice of arranged marriage and allowed me to see that there is more to it than the notions I had in my head before. I think in my head I had an idea that all arranged marriages were kind of forced (not to the extent that Naila’s was) and that the parties involved had no say in it. That is in fact NOT what arranged marriage is all about. Grateful to learn the truth and not have these misconceptions about it in my head. KNOWLEDGE, Y’ALL. I love reading author notes in books and I think the one Aisha wrote was SUPER helpful too to understand things.

2. I liked that I rooted for the romance but more so I rooted for her right to choose who she married: We don’t get to see much of the actual romance. It’s already established and the glimpses and the memories we do get are super cute and I love the relationship she and Saif have despite the fact they’ve had to hide it and don’t get to spend that much time together. Because so much of the story takes place away from Saif because she’s in Pakistan I can’t say it was a super shippy romance but I so much felt that desire and longing and fear that she may never see the one she loves and may never see what could have been with him. Whether or not she was Saif, this whole book I just so rooted for her to be able to stand up for her rights to not be just forced into something. You felt the tug between wanting to respect her parents and her culture but you also felt the heart matters she had going on. I also liked that it was briefly explored if Naila could consider loving the man she was forced to marry. If she could see beyond it. Accept it. I loved all that was explored in relation to romance and love and marriage.

3.  I was constantly on edge the whole time I was reading and did NOT expect that: I don’t know if I just wasn’t super aware of what was going to happen but OH MY GOSH. I could not put this down — what an absorbing and evocative story. From the time her parents find out she has been seeing Saif behind their back until the very last chapter I was a bundle of nerves and anger and helplessness. I was SOOOOO mad at her family. How her parents could just kiiiind of kidnap her and trick her and force her to marry someone. And the THINGS that happened (I don’t want to less the shock of them) just WOW. I had to remember not to tense up and to stop holding my breath as I was reading because I would inhale sharply out of horror a lot. My heart was breaking for Naila as she was forced (and I mean physically) to go through with this marriage and being ripped away from her old life.

 

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ plot, writing, characters, what I got out of it
–  There really wasn’t anything I disliked. Just stingy about handing out “beyond loved” rating as you know.

Re-readability: Probably not but only because I only re-read favorites exclusively.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I want to make sure my library has a copy!

a5readers of contemporary YA, readers who want a setting in the Middle East, readers who like a riveting plot AND great characterization of the main character, people wanting a diverse read

a8Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed was truly a novel I couldn’t put down. Between the riveting plot and the chance to experience and learn about a culture/culture practice that is not like my own, I was trying to sneak moments with this book any chance I could get because I HAD to know what was going to happen to Naila and was scared for her/raging on her behalf. I appreciate how Aisha showed all sides of arranged marriage and not just the awful forced ones that many are subjected to.

review-on-post-itWritten in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?

Have you read any other books dealing with arranged marriage?
Do you have any recs for other books set in the Middle East? Especially YA.

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 30 year old married lady who is in denial that she's actually that old. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, listening to music with oversized headphones and having adventures with her husband and dog.

Comments

  1. This book sounds great! It sounds like it manages to balance the fact that what her parents are doing isn’t right for her (or at all) with a predudice-free look at arranged marriage in general. I’ll keep an eye out for it.

    • It was great! Hope it gets more attention! It really does balance that and I was glad for that! I think it helps that the author herself had a semi-arranged marriage so she knows the good too to balance it with the fact that some women are forced into their arranged marriages. It was so heartbreaking to know that, while fictional, there are girls that are in this situation.

  2. I must read this one… Being with an Indian guy for 7 years has let me learn loads about other cultures and see about arranged marriages from up close, since two of my ex’s best friends got married that way, and it is so different from what I expected! At least for them it was more similar to a dating service with marriage in mind instead of just dating, and so far both of them are in happy marriages, so that is something, I guess!

    I’m pretty sure that the book will make me angry and keep me turning pages and all tense as you were, but I feel like we need to read more books about different cultures written by the people that live and breathe those cultures, because that’s the only way to broaden our own horizons!

    Fantastic review Jamie!

    • Yeah, I did a little research after reading (bc SO INTERESTING TO ME) and it seems like the “semi-arranged” marriages are definitely more like dating service sort of things.

      I will be curious to see what you think about this one! And I so agree with you! I love reading books outside my own culture and life! Makes me a better citizen of the world, I think. I mean, just with this one I definitely learned about my own misconceptions with arranged marriages.

  3. Great review, Jamie! I was already excited about this book but now I’m even more thrilled to read it! The topics discussed in Written in the Stars are ones I don’t know much about so I’m interested in gaining a new perspective once I get around to reading this!

  4. I was up alll night last night reading this one, and I can’t even believe how much it made me cry! My eyes still feel a little heavy, haha. It’s such a powerful read and I was the same, in which I viewed arranged marriages as something that as a whole was a bit forced? But obviously not, and I really loved the knowledge the book brings a reader. Knowledge is power! I think the only thing I wished for was a less abrupt ending but everything about it was amazing. Love your thoughts!

    • YES I’m glad that this book was able to help us see arranged marriages differently and learn something. I’m so thankful for that. And yeah, the ending was a bit rushed when you mention it. I will agree with you on that! Glad you loved this one too and had that same intense experience I had! I didn’t expect that!

  5. I’m thinking on picking this one up, especially since I’m studying the Middle East right now!

  6. I’m really looking forward to reading this!

    My recommendation for you is I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced. It’s non-fiction, but it’s set in Yemen, and it was so interesting/heartbreaking/inspiring.

  7. I’m so looking forward to reading Written in the Stars! It makes me really glad to hear that you like how eye-opening and riveting it was; definitely even more reason for me to bump it up the TBR pile.