Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed // Culturally Diverse and Simply Romantic

Friday, 15 January 2016
Written in the Stars, by Aisha Saeed
Publication: March 24, 2015, by Nancy Paulsen Books
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 277
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed
Rating: ½

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 Thoughts:

Written in the Stars is one of the most culturally diverse novels I have ever read, and its message and themes are certainly one of the most diverse in all of young adult history and mankind. Aisha Saeed bases this story coming from a young curious girl's life off her own in a way, where she is in an arranged (happy) marriage. If I could look up in the sky and actually see stars (which is literally impossible these days in urban or suburban areas), this novel would certainly be written in the stars with love and perfection.

I heart this book. Thank you to my amazing friend who read it and recommended it to me because she knows that I am the ultimate romance-contemporary lover—I heart you too. This may seem like a simplistic novel at first, which features your regular high school romance plot, including a secretive relationship (because what teenager in books don't have one), adorable romance, and that killer ending that will leave you hanging and unable to think about anything else for the rest of the night. And in that case, it includes dreams. Although I do not remember my dreams from last night, I do have this inner feeling that Saif, Nalia's true love, was part of mine. He is so dreamy. 

Written in the Stars is surprisingly about a girl who has to go through an arranged marriage. I never saw this coming. But at the same time, I never really read the synopsis in depth and all, and it literally tore me apart. It hurts to read about a girl's dreams not coming true. I am not complaining, but fiction is supposed to be about dreams coming true and happy plots! This surely was not a flaw through Aisha Saeed's writing; in fact, it was a beautiful thing that made the book so much more unique than anything else I have ever read in my entirety of being a teenager reading YA fiction, my one and only. Nalia is a senior and her graduation is coming very soon, hoping to go to the college of her dreams and could be with her secret boyfriend, Saif, and her best friend, Carla. When her parents discover the relationship she is having with Saif, they send her off to Pakistan, as a punishment in a way, to have her forget about her past with love. They arrange her in a marriage where she does not even know her husband's name, but she will never forget about the life she left behind.

"But Saif isn't my boyfriend. He's Saif. The boy who brings me my favorite granola bars and teases me relentlessly, until my sides ache from laughter." (31)

Even though this is obviously a fictional story, it has a message and teaching to share. I have heard about arranged marriages ever since I could remember, and always imagined and wondered how it worked, what people and locals thought of it. Yes, I knew that it occurred in specific religions and nations, like Pakistan, but what about in North American, modern society? What did teens think of it? Aisha Saeed tells a story that is not relatable to some, but shares a message of diversity, first love, and all of the hardships in life that are clumped together to give teenagers a tough time in life, aside from arranged marriages. I loved this and wish that it was brought to my world sooner. I know I need more of it, and it will provide you a waterfall of tears of joy and sadness, depending on the chapter or event.

Saeed is an exceptional writer. She makes readers have to pick between two sides, between who Nalia should pick: the boy from America who she has always loved, or the new man, her new husband, in her life. It seems to be an easy decision when you have not yet read this book, but it is extremely difficult for readers, and for Nalia, of course. I did not know what to expect or who to become part of Nalia's life for good. And this is one of those cases when rebellion against "haters" is essential for one to experience a healthy, well-balanced life. It is such a real subject.

One of my favourite parts of this book (I encountered many) was the realism of the story. Aisha Saeed has experience, she plays with the Pakistani-American culture and has readers feeling like we're actually there, holding Nalia's hand as she encounters one of the worst possible situations of her lifetime. Things take a turn quickly when Nalia makes a bad decision and gets peer pressured by her best friend, Carla. Usually, it ends with consequences, but Aisha did such a beautiful job making me believe (oh, my gullible self) that everything will be fine. OF COURSE IT WOULD NOT BE ALL RIGHT.

"The harder I struggle, the more painfully destiny pushes down my fate. How long can I push against it? Should love involve pulling the person you claim to love deeper into your own destructive life, to be destroyed along with you? Saif and I tried. We failed." (200)

And guess what, my fellow reviewers and friends? I promised myself that I wouldn't cry or explode of feels. The first part was a complete promise, but I did grow in outrage with Nalia's parents and realize that things will never be the same for such a relatable, beautiful protagonist who deserves the world. She is smart, easy-going, and such an innocent person who gets forced against her will to marry a man that she has never met before, or whose name she does not even know until after the ceremony. It's pressure, that's the big theme of this book. Many are forced against their will to do things, which leads to other atrocious situations, like rape. But this is not a story about that, it is a powerful one of love and rebellion.

Saif and Nalia were unstoppable. Their passion and wills to do whatever it took to be together... that's magical. But at the moment, it is your turn to experience this beauty.

Written in the Stars is a famous book in my heart, when you really think about it. I have so much love towards it, and I seriously beg you all to read it, fall in love with it, and look for everything that you could ever ask for in a story like this. Nalia and Saif will become your next new ship, which will dock at your heart. (See what I did there? *giggles*) My love for it is undoubtedly impossible to explain or describe.

Have you ever read a fictional story about arranged marriages? What was the most diverse book of 2015 for you?


  1. I actually have this book and just haven't read it yet, although that sounds like it is something I need to do STAT. I love when books are written beautifully and just crafted in a way which can take your breath away. And that's just the writing - the plot of this one sounds so interesting and diverse.

    1. STAT. ASAP. RIGHT NOW, girlie! Aisha Saeed is so talented, and she is on my automatic-book-buying list from this moment on! I am so excited to hear your thoughts on this! It is one of the best, ever, probably. I ADORE IT.


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