Written in the Stars
“Written in the Stars" is authored by Aisha Saeed, a Pakistani-American author. I believe, from the experiences she had faced in her life and the stories about the immigrants and everything related to Pakistan, she has taken inspiration to author such a wonderful book.
The book depicts the life of a Pakistani-American teenage girl named Naila. Naila, despite growing up in America, has to maintain a rigid connection with the Pakistani traditions her conservative immigrant parents try to instil in her and her younger brother's mind in every possible way.
Naila ticks all the boxes of being an obedient daughter, minus she has a boyfriend about whom her parents don't have inkling. Upon her parents' abrupt finding out about Naila's relationship, she predicts her upcoming episodes of life would surely be horrible. Little did she realize even 'horrible' is an understatement, given that she is taken to Pakistan to marry her off. Unaware of her parents' plan, Naila feels the world around her shattering into pieces upon knowing that the visit to Pakistan wasn't mean for a holiday trip only.
I've felt a lot of emotions while reading the book. Unfortunately, happiness isn't one of those. On that note, better be said at the beginning that this book portrays starvation, forced marriage, and rape so eloquently that you might feel physically shaken. The characters are authentic, the portrayal of the culture is relatable, and, I believe, real as well. There is romance in this book. The storyline surrounding that and the picturization is much different from those in the renowned Young Adult books.
Although I'm unsure as to whether it was intended by the author to reflect on toxic parenting and the facts that parents aren't always right, that just because it's tradition doesn't mean it's objectively right, the author does a wonderful job in curating the frequently used monologues parents (who are humans too, by the way, and definitely not beyond committing mistakes) use to control their children. The vibrant aspiration of wanting the children to grow up as the parents grew up has been clearly delineated.
I picked up the book on a whim. This year being efficient in giving me enough reason to be in my room the whole day has been super verbose for me so far. Both the books I had to read for my study and the ones I picked up for pleasure made me read a lot of words.
Not much of what comprises my list of the books I've read so far would be Asian contemporary literature, sine I don't hear many people discussing the genre. Secondly, despite actively working on getting rid of my cynicism regarding emerging authors, I keep pushing their books down the to-be-read pile. Picking up the book, and actually finishing it has replenished the confidence I lacked.
The reviewer is a student of anthropology, Brac University