Written in the Stars
by Aisha Saeed
read in October 2017
review contains minor spoilers!
It’s quite impossible to talk about this book without spoiling what it’s about. The synopsis itself spoils certain elements. But if you want to go into this book blind, you might not be prepared for how heart-wrenching Written in the Stars is. So my review will contain minor spoilers, but you will still be able to read the book afterwards.
Naila, the protagonist is thrust into an unwanted marriage by her family. The author’s note was absolutely beautiful and made me appreciate this book even more than I did. Aisha Saeed’s own marriage was semi-arranged by her family. Though her marriage is a happy one, there are many girls who are forced to marry someone. I hope Saeed will write an uplifting book featuring an arranged marriage someday, but I understand why she chose to write about a forced marriage instead in Written in the Stars. Unfortunately, this is the reality for many girls. I wasn’t really aware of that, so Naila’s story definitely needs to be told.
The story starts off in Florida, but it mainly takes place in Pakistan. The cultural aspects were very interesting. There’s even a glossary at the end, though I wasn’t aware of that until I finished reading the book.
Written in the Stars is very fast-paced and the chapters are short. I absolutely loved that, but at times, I do think some scenes could’ve been developed further. It sometimes seemed a bit clipped, like something was missing? Either way, you could read Written in the Stars in one sitting if you want to, but do be aware that the content is emotionally draining and heartbreaking.
Because it was so fast-paced, the amount of characters really confused me. It was hard to keep track of them. Furthermore, there were some things that just didn’t add up. Naila for instance leaves a note saying “By the well behind the house. Tonight.” without specifying an hour or without making sure the person she was meeting, knew where she lived!
Not to mention that Amin supposedly didn’t know that Naila was forced to marry him. She said so during the ceremony and her family had to force her to sign the document. Didn’t he witness that?
I think some reviewers are being too harsh on Naila. She’s not to blame for anything that happened. It’s completely understandable why she trusted her family. She never once annoyed me, so I was feeling very sorry for her. No one deserves to go through this. Though this story might be fictional, it’s – like I said – the reality for some girls.
I don’t think this book sensationalises or dramatises the traumatic experiences. Every character has layers; there are no villains who treat Naila badly just for the sake of being the villain. That brought another layer of realism to this novel.
The ending was great and stayed true to the vibe of the rest of the book. Though it might have been a bit rushed, I think the epilogue made up for that.
content and trigger warnings for (warning: contains spoilers!): forced marriage, physical and emotional abuse, being drugged against their will, rape, miscarriage
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