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.
Written in the Stars is the kind of book that I should have loved but I didn't. Diversity? Check. Forbidden romance? Check. A female lead you want to root for? Check. So why didn’t I love it? For starters, it is written in a very simplistic middle grade style which is odd given the age of the characters and the things happening.
I also think the book is a lot more rushed than it should be. It takes a lot of time to build to the climax but not enough time is spent providing readers with a detailed resolution. We find out what happens in the epilogue but given the risk and the issues at hand, it would have been a lot nicer if more time were spent actually hashing that bit out.
I also struggled a lot with the cruelty of her parents because even though this is SUCH AN important issue and it happens a LOT, I also feel like the way the community was represented as a whole could have been done better? Not all south-east asian parents are trying to marry their kids off at the youngest age possible and are super conservative. If we got more positive depictions, I think it would have helped highlight the issue even more without stereotyping an entire community.
That said, I do think the author did a good job with exploring the issue of forced arranged marriages and how horrible they can be. In the second half of the book, Nalia’s emotions become so real and her pain and it hurts.
So overall, I would recommend this book to readers because the right people will fall in love and every story needs to be told & read.