Written in the Stars

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

Author bio: Aisha Saeed is Pakistani-American

Naila’s parents have always made it clear that they planned on arranging a marriage for her. But Naila’s heart has other plans. She’s fallen for Saif and hopes that one day, she will be able to make her own decisions about who she will marry.

But before she has the opportunity to slowly convince them to come around to her way of thinking, she is caught in a lie and her parents are devastated. Not knowing how to account for Naila’s behavior, they immediately head to Pakistan, where they hope to make Naila back into the obedient daughter they once believed her to be.  It soon becomes clear that this is not a simple family bonding trip.  Naila’s family has an agenda, to marry her off to the first worthy man.  In their eyes, it is the only way to set her back on the right path. Desperate, terrified and grieving for the loss of both her boyfriend and the parents she though she knew, Naila must try to find her way out of an unthinkable future.

I tore through this one, both drawn in by Saeed’s evocative description of life in Pakistan and by my growing need to know whether or not Naila would ever be okay again.  There’s a lot of pain in this one, but there is endurance and resilience and survival here as well. Trust me, this is great and satisfying summer reading.

Great for: If you loved Mitali Perkins Secret Keeper, then you will love this as well (and vice versa, although Secret Keeper is a bit sadder in some ways).

Age Recommendation: I’d recommend this for Grades 9+ and it is definitely the kind of YA that adult readers will thoroughly enjoy.

Sex, Nudity, Dating – People kiss. A South Asian woman marries someone outside her community. Naila’s parents plan to arrange her marriage. They speak of people who are divorced and should feel ashamed.  A woman is accused of having an affair.  A woman becomes pregnant. A woman is very ill.  A woman has a miscarriage.
Profanity – “Thank God”, “hell”,
Death, Violence and Gore – A woman is slapped so hard she is thrown to the floor, bleeding.  A woman is raped, the scene is brief and it is not straight out called or identified as rape, but it is.  There are repeated statements that a man would kill a woman if certain things happen.  A woman is slapped, shoved and repeatedly kicked.  Her nose bleeds and her lip is swollen.  A man is punched.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – People, including teens smoke a hookah pipe.  Someone is given drugs in a drink.
Frightening or Intense Things – A person skips meals for an extended period of time.

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