For a while, I’ve wanted to know more about Pakistan’s culture. Granted, it’s pretty hard to find a YA book with a Pakistani protagonist or even set in Pakistan. So when I found Written in the Stars, I was very excited. Lucky for me, Aisha Saeed’s Young Adult debut was exactly what I needed.
Written in the Stars is the story of Pakistani-American teen, Naila. You could say Naila’s parents aren’t all that strict. She can dress however she wants, wear her hair however she chooses, go to whatever college she desires. There’s just one itsy-bitsy thing; Naila may not ever date, become friends with, or even socialize with boys. Her parents get to choose her husband. This isn’t an uncommon fate for Pakistani women. In fact, the author’s marriage was arranged. Naila didn’t mind; until she met Saif. A year later, and Naila and Saif are in a serious, yet completely forbidden, relationship. Naila has no idea how to tell her parents, so when they find out on their own, they’re understandably livid. Naila’s punishment is a month long summer trip with her family to visit their relatives in Pakistan. In this month, Naila’s parents hope she can rediscover her true path. Naila’s happy for this punishment, she’s excited to finally meet her extended family! And maybe, just maybe, she can show her parents Saif isn’t that bad. But when the very future Naila’s been fighting against finally happens, she’s devastated and completely trapped. Is her relationship with Saif really written in the stars?
Now, I’ll admit, although arranged marriage is a loaded topic, I was expecting a lighter book. Written in the Stars is quite the opposite. It deals with the realities of life, so expect hardship, joy, and everything in between. Written in the Stars is short, smart, and a must read.