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.
I borrowed a copy of this novel from the library. It does not influence my thoughts or this review.
I’ve been hearing amazing things about Written in the Stars and I decided to order a copy through my library system (they bought it, yay!) so I finally got a chance to read it. And I am happy to announce that I really enjoyed it. While it was not the most happy read, Written in the Stars is an important novel that I recommend for all.
Naila’s conservative parents have allowed her to choose her entire future except for one thing: they will choose who she marries. She is not allowed to date or be alone with boys but Naila has a secret: she’s been dating Saif for the past year. Now only a couple months from going to college that’s two hours away from her family, her parents discover the relationship and the family goes on a trip to Pakistan. At first, Naila is enjoying her time in Pakistan, learning more about her parents and seeing her family members but soon she finds out that maybe her trip isn’t all that innocent and her parents have found her a husband… okay I’ll stop there because the rest is spoilery!
Based on the synopsis, it might be clear that this is not the most happy of novels. But it is super important and powerful. While the subject matter is a bit intense, the novel reads smoothly and quickly. The writing style felt so personal and real, I could really connect to Naila.
My favourite aspect of the novel is definitely the discussion surrounding arranged marriages vs. forced marriages. In her Author’s Note, the author addresses the very real problem of forced marriages, ones where the bride and/or groom does not want to enter the marriage vs. an arranged marriage where the parents arrange for the couple to meet but the couple decides whether or not to go through with the marriage. This distinction is integral to the novel and in western societies, we sometimes don’t think about the issue of forced marriages.
Overall, Written in the Stars is a powerful read. I think it’d be great for a book club and for readers looking for an important and powerful novel.