This year I’ve been reading a lot more Own Voices books and trying to preorder more of those. So here is one. I have to say this review requires some Content Warning:
TW/CW: The book touches on forced marriage and the difficulties that happen around it. So it is brutal but good.
Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed
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.
This is a difficult book, you know how some fantasy authors justify the violence in their fantasy made up world by saying it was like this in medieval ages and shenanigangs like that? Well, in this particular book, it is not making it up, this is the reality for some women in the world.
Naila’s story is an extreme one, where a trip to pay for being found to have a boyfriend against her parents wishes, turns into a never ending nightmare that translates into loosing her college entrance times and having ehr trip prolonged over and over. The reason being a forced marriage that she doesn’t want.
But the story doesn’t end when she marries, but rather it follows her and it was sad, cringey and brutal but also powerful and full of wonderful quotes that I kept wanting to frame somewhere (check out Goodreads, they have some good ones there).
I do have to say, it was difficult to read for me, but it was also kinda therapeutic and it was good.