Thursday 15 June 2017

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Review: Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

Written in the Stars by Aisha SaeedWritten in the Stars by Aisha Saeed (Bought) - 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. From Goodreads.

Trigger warning: This book features rape.

I've been really looking forward to Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed for such a long time now, but I finished it feeling really disappointed.

The topic Written in the Stars covers is a really serious one. Forced marriage is abhorrent, and so I was expecting this story to have me in floods of tears. It didn't. Why? Because I didn't know any of the characters. I can tell you that Naila was planning to go to college to study to become a doctor. Other than that, I can't tell you a single thing about her, not her hobbies, not what she likes to do in her spare time, nothing. I also don't have a clue about Saif, the guy she is in love with. I know nothing about either of them, and so I didn't feel their romance. To be honest, I don't really know anything about any of the characters. For me, they all felt so very one dimensional, and when that is the case, I find it very difficult to care. I don't mean that harshly, I don't mean I didn't care, but that as I didn't feel like the characters were real people, I wasn't emotionally invested in their story. I felt distanced from the story. Terrible things happened, but I was only very mildly affected by what I read. This is a book about forced marriage -

- and with all that happens to her, I should have been raging, I should have been brokenhearted, I should have felt so much despair, but because of how this book was written, I was not.

Not only are the characters one dimensional in my opinion, but the story felt so rushed. Although it is 277 pages long, the font is pretty big. Time flies inbetween chapters, and before you know it, a month has gone by, then several weeks more. Things happen, then it's several weeks after they happened, and I struggled to keep up with the speed of the book. I'm not sure, even if the characters were more developed, that this book would have as much affect on me, because everything happens so fast. And there's so very little description of anything. The story just didn't feel real to me. I couldn't fully imagine the people or the setting, and I'm being whisked through things before I have time to fully realise what I'm reading.

I didn't like this book. I'm afraid it just wasn't for me. I didn't feel the true horror of what forced marriages are, even with all that I read. I just don't think this book was executed well. And that bothers me, because it's such an important subject. But saying all this, there are lots of people who love Written in the Stars, people who were more affected by the story than I was. So maybe read a few more reviews before deciding whether or not to read this book. Don't base your decision on my review alone.

The Ramadan Readathon

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed has been reviewed as part of the Ramadan Readathon.

Add to Goodreads

Published: 3rd May 2016
Publisher: Speak
Aisha Saeed's Website

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