Friday, 4 September 2015

Extremely Long & Emotional Review: Written In The Stars by Aisha Saeed


Title: Written In The Stars
Author: Aisha Saeed
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Release Date: March 24, 2015
Date Read:  July 30, 2015
Buy This Book: Amazon | Book Depository
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
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.

"Should love involve pulling the person you claim to love deeper into your own destructive life, to be destroyed along with you?"

This one hit so close to home, I can't even begin to explain how much I could relate to Naila. Being a Pakistani girl myself, living in foreign countries for most of my life and having traditional parents is a unique lifestyle and one that no average white heroine can portray. I'm ever so grateful for the diversity that is this beautiful book. Even though Naila went through a whole lot worse than I ever did, I don't think I ever connected to a protagonist before as much as I did with her. I JUST WANT TO HUG HER, MY PRECIOUS CINNAMON ROLL.


Throughout it all, I recognized the many nasty cultural aspects of Naila's life like everyday sexism in parenting that seems natural but is obviously discriminating (Naila's brother can learn to drive but Naila can't, Naila is scolded for smoking hookah but her brother gets away with it scott free, he's encouraged to complete his education first instead of encouraged to get married, etc.), the widespread community gossip, the constant fear of being shunned by family and friends.

There were some familiar homely aspects too like the FOOD. Aye, the food made my mouth water for my mom's home cooking. All the milky chai with halva, the spicy keema and pakoras! Bless the food. And the Urdu words mixed with the English, I jumped when I read the word "beta" for the first time because I wasn't expecting the book to be that authentic. But it was and I was grinning whenever Naila was automatically thinking Khala instead of aunt and Chacha instead of uncle because same. There's even a part of the book that takes place in Pakistan and the city of Lahore felt so real, down to the colorful rickshaws, random blackouts and sooty street vendors. It was all so well-described.

Then there's that romance! Saif is an ANGEL — a sweet, caring, precious angel. I kept having this fear at the back of my mind that sooner or later, he was going to abandon Naila because the trouble wasn't worth it but I should have trusted him more because their love went through so many hurdles but it was still so real and it just argh *clutches heart*. I wish the world was populated with more angelic Saifs.


I also loved the friendship between Selma and Naila. It wasn't all cheery laughter and hugs and kisses because c'mon, it's almost impossible to have a simple friendship like that. There were realistic rifts between them because of their different upbringings but I liked how they both overcame those differences and supported each other no matter what. The other characters were horrendous but none of them felt black-and-white and 2D. They had good qualities, bad qualities and realistic motivations. They were humans. Absolutely awful humans though.


The story itself felt like a spiraling staircase into a pit of darkness. Whenever I thought things were finally going to get better, they ended up getting 478386 times worse and it terrified me. I was on the edge of my seat, reading this whole book in one sitting, and desperately rooting for Naila to find happiness and love. It was a heart-wrenching, emotional rollercoaster.


In the end, I feel like this book is so necessary. I feel so happy that Naila's story exists. I felt so touched when I read the author's note and saw the emergency contacts on the page after. I feel hopeful that this might open people's eyes to the reality of forced marriage and how suffocating and terrifying it can be. I feel so many emotions in knowing that girls out there, who have went through the same struggle or are going through it still, can look to somewhere for comfort or escape or help or whatever this story brings to them.

It's the best cherry on top (or maybe the whole cake?) that the book is such a well-written one.
Bless this book's creation. 5 clouds of EMOTIONS.



37 comments:

  1. THIS BOOKS. I did a lot of crying while reading this book. Her story was so heart-wrenching. I loved Saif and how he didn't give up on her either. I definitely got scared something would happen and he would give up on her, I didn't want her to stay trapped. I also loved, that in the back of the book, the author also talked about her own arranged marriage and the differences between that and such Forced marriages as the one Naila experienced. :'')

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    1. I cried a lot too, Alysia! AND I WANTED HER TO BE FREE SO MUCH.

      Exactly, the author's note was really important. A lot of people have misconceptions about the differences between arranged marriage and forced marriage and she cleared that up completely.

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  2. Sounds like such an emotional read. Glad you were able to connect with the story and character. It's great to see more diverse books our there. Great review!

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    1. Thanks, Grace! And it was, wow, there were ALL the emotions.

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  3. What a wonderful, diverse and emotional book you've described! IT's so important to read diverse books like this one with the cultural diversity, and it sounds like it honoured her culture well. The friendship sounds really lovely but man, it sounds a bit depressing as well! Lovely review!

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    1. It did the represent the culture really well! And yES, this book is extremely depressing but luckily there was light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks Jeann :"D

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  4. Obviously I need to read this one ASAP then! It sounds so good, from the relationships, to the characters, to writing, to the moral and message. Plus diversity! It sounds like the cultural elements were portrayed correctly too, which is awesome! Great review, Ju :D

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    1. It's never too late to read this gem, Alise! I hope you enjoy it and thanks!

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  5. I have wanted to read this book since I first spotted it on Goodreads, but I am hesitant! I am so easily frustrated by situations like this. The injustice of it kills me. But I am so intrigued by the situation at the same time, since it is so different from my own. Agh! Either way, I thought this was a lovely review! :D

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    1. Oh, yeah, this book is brimming with injustice and heartbreak and horrors throughout but it definitely is worth it to see how the characters reach the light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you so much, Erin ヾ(●⌒∇⌒●)ノ

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  6. HAHAHA WHY DO I LOVE THIS REVIEW SO MUCH? Really now, Ju, I can totally imagine you swooning and crying over this book behind the screen haha ^_^

    I've heard about this a lot and found a fair number of good reviews, but your review really captured my interest a lot! I'm glad there is diversity in this book, and Naila sounds like a very interesting protagonist :D CAN'T WAIT TO READ IT. Thanks for the awesome review <3 <3

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    1. AHHH, JILLIAN, THANK YOU (~ ̄▽ ̄)~ *:・゚✧ ♥

      Naila is pretty interesting! I forgot to mention this in the review but she really fights for her rights with so much passion. Even though the horror of her situation can get to her at times and she falls into depression, she NEVER acknowledges that what's happening to her is ok. She'll always look for a way out even if everything seems hopeless and she's all alone. To me, that was really brave :"D

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  7. This sounds so awesome and amazing, and I want to read it right now!

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    1. Glad I made you excited to read this! ヽ(^◇^*)/

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  8. This sounds amazing!! I've had my eye on this book since it first came out, but I wasn't positive it was something I'd enjoy. I think I'll have to move this one way up my TBR list! :D

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

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    1. I know what you mean! It sounds too depressing and realistic so it deterred a lot of people but it's a really emotional, important story that I think you should at least try :")

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  9. Yeah, I'm pretty sure I need to read this NOW. I love realistic characters, and that spiraling staircase you said? Pretty convincing. Beautiful review!

    Vane at Books With Chemistry

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    1. Thanks Vane! It's always great to experience the stories of realistic characters now and then :)

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  10. What a wonderful review. I've been wanting to read this book for ages. It sounds like a really emotional, but well-written book, and I'm looking forward to a diverse read written by an author who knows what they're talking/writing about! (As opposed to those books that are supposedly set in a different culture but sound like they could be taking place in any US city.)

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    1. Thanks (◠‿◠✿) Oh yeah, I've read too many books that supposedly take place on the other side of the world but only have a few food dishes to distinguish them :/

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  11. WHY HAVEN'T I HEARD HOW GOOD THIS BOOK IS YET? But man this sounds so emotional but just so eye opening. And I am so so happy to see how accurately portrayed this book was :) Glad to see you were able to connect to the book so well!!

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    1. WHAT VAL, I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU DIDN'T HEAR OF THIS GEM! In that case, I'm so glad I posted this review, even if it feels kinda late. It definitely is eye-opening and worth the try :"D

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  12. This is... kind of an incredibly epic review. Really beautiful, which was touching and made me all the more connected with your thoughts on how much the book meant to you and how you've clung to the characters. Books like that, that make you feel not so alone or fill you with an intense love or passion are the books that are sometimes the hardest to write reviews of (I haven't reviewed many of my all time favourite books!), possibly because they're just... your love for them is impossible, it seems, to put into words. But you did such a wonderfully good job here. And the gifs? I loved them even before I saw Rengé. xx

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    1. Aw Romi, THANK YOU SO MUCH! :"D It's true, sometimes I can't explain how a good book made e feel too but with Written In The Stars, my thoughts were still coherent because I was satisfied with the ending and the story left a huge impact on me. GIFs are a must! (AND YOU RECOGNIZED RENGE FROM OURAN *highfive*)

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    2. OURAN IS THE BEST! I WILL ALWAYS RECOGNISE RENGE! *extra fancy highfive right back at you*

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  13. Wow this book sounds absolutely amazing, Ju! I am so glad it gets your stamp of approval in terms of getting the ethnicity correct. It sounds like you connected to it on a personal level, which is so awesome! What a touching review! I love it, I will definitely have to check this book out!

    Aentee at The Social Potato and Read at Midnight

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    1. Haha "stamp of approval" sounds bizarre but as an immigrant Pakistani girl, it felt very authentic to me and I think that's hugely because the author has a similar origin and is speaking from the heart ;") I feel so honored that I inspired you to want to read this, Aentee!

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  14. OMG I NEED TO READ THIS BOOK ASAP!!! So happy there's a beautifully book out there about a pakistani girl! I'd heard of this before but was hesitant to read it because of the whole forced marriage aspect but your amazing review definitely changed my mind :D

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    1. YES, ALLIYAH, PLEASE DO! The forced marriage aspect is really brutal but disguised as something safe and innocent so when it unravels, it really hits you with all the horror 0_0 But still, it's worth a shot for sure.

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  15. DAMN GIRL THIS REVIEW! First of all, I own this, but I'm pushing it way up on my TBR because your review has completely sold me. I absolutely love when books are rich with culture, to the point you actually LEARN about the character's heritage. It's even better that she hit all the nails on their heads, making the story authentic. * squeals * I need to read this now! I'm not sure if you read New Adult, (well I see that you're currently reading Amour Amour which I need to read like soon) so I think you will really, really enjoy a book called The Rearranged Life by Anikka Sharma. Omg girl, that book was sooo freaking good. I learned so much about Indian culture, down to arranged marriages, to beliefs, and even the food they eat! If you pick it up, let me know!

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    1. Wow, I'm so honored to have influenced you so much :D I definitely will check out your recommendations, thank you so much for telling me about them, Martika!

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  16. Amazing review! I've been wanting to read this book for a long time, but always pushed it back. However, you review really made me want to grab it. I love it when authors are able to bring a character's culture alive through the page.

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    1. So glad I could help you reconsider :D This book really brought the culture to life again to me!

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  17. The relationship, the character portrayal, the EVERYTHING just sounds wonderfully written based on your review. I also love learning about other cultures' traditions so this one is a must read for me. I'm so glad there are REALISTIC diverse books out there like this one. Can't wait to get my hands on it.
    Great review, Ju. :)

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    1. Thanks Veronika! I sure hope you read it and feel what I felt :")

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  18. I thought this was a good book as well, but it was REALLY fast paced you know? I think it should have been moderate since it was a contemporary novel. Atleast you enjoyed it more than me, I gave it 3.5 stars though. Lovely review overall! <3 Benish | Feminist Reflections

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    1. It did feel fast-paced at times to me too like the ending could have been wrapped up more neatly and the beginning in the USA was sped up too but it didn't leave that much of an impact on me to decrease the score :) Thanks!

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