Friday, August 7, 2015

Book Review: Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

Title: Written in the Stars
Author: Aisha Saeed
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Date of Publication: March 24, 2015
To Buy: Amazon / B&N
Format: ARC obtained from @Gryphongirl2007 on Twitter Giveaway
ISBN 0399171703

Goodreads Summary:

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.

My Review: 

   Saeed's novel is a quick and gripping tale that I read in one day. This is not a fluffy story and sheds light on what some women face and have little choice in. I was not anticipating in the beginning the magnitude of suspense and thrill of this novel. Naila's parents are traditionalists from Pakistan. When they find out she has had a secret boyfriend for about a year they take her back to Pakistan in order to get away from the gossip. Naila is allowed to decide what she wants in life except for who she marries. This decision is the parents' who will choose someone for her to marry. Saif, Naila's boyfriend, is Pakistani as well, but his sister married someone that was not welcome by the Pakstani-American community. This sheds a bad light on Saif in relation to Naila's parents who then freak out when they find she has been hiding a boyfrend from them and who it actually is.

   At the beginning it was hard to believe her parents would force her to travel to Pakistan from finding out Naila has been dating. Then to go to the extremes they went to keep Naila there. The parents were the obvious antagonists. Whereas the book needed antagonists it put the parents to the extreme. Not to mention the other family members come off as horrible people. Showing that the traditions of Pakistan themselves may be detrimental to girls and women. I almost had to detach myself whether this was plausible or not to be engrossed in the story. The constant anguish Naila feels is poignant n the novel and  . I would have liked to see more of the friendship between Carla and Naila and more examples to show Saif and Naila's bond to give the novel more meat. I am also curious as to what happened with Naila's cousin who helped her in Pakistan.

   More descriptive writing and background story of characters and Pakistan would have been great. I felt the writing in Written in the Stars was somewhat basic. I felt there could have been more to write about and the events seemed so sudden. Maybe the abruptness was done on purpose making the ambiance feel more chaotic and the actions more traumatizing. Either way the plot was great and Naila is a strong, inspiring character. The suspense of what happens next is unreal! Every new chapter I was wanting things to get better for Naila.

Positive Aspect:
   I feel this novel is a great addition to the contemporary YA world by introducing a different cultural background for a protagonist in America and helping to diversify the genre more. This is a great way for those who have been in difficult situations and felt they had no voice to finally feel comfortable to share their experiences. Hopefully this raises awareness that women's rights are still being suppressed. Aisha Saeed is helping serve this cause and to that I thank her.

My Rating: 3/5 Stars


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