Title: Written in the Stars
Author: Aisha Saeed
A story about a conservative Pak-American teenage girl named Naila. Life is good for Naila, her parents the picture of love and compassion; doting over her, providing her with everything that one needs to live a happy full life. She’s on her way to college; her parents have even agreed to let her room with childhood BFF. Everything is perfect, except Naila lacks the most basic of all necessities, freedom. What will Naila’s fate be when she chooses to go against her parents’ wishes and fall in love.
Boy do I have a few (or more) bones to pick. Back story, I am Naila. I was raised in the good old USA with immigrant parents who worked harder then possible to support my brother and I. They had similar expectations of me, but [spoiler alert] they didn’t caste me away or disown me at the sight of the first suitor. We fought, we kicked we screamed but we worked through it, like every family does. It boils down to teenagers testing limits with parents. Every blue blooded parent has dealt with rebellion – it is not a phenomenon relevant only to Pakistani (interchange for South Asian) people!
That was my rant on culture biases being promoted from within the culture being biased against.
Good lord – that’s like a woman saying women only get 0.70 to every dollar a man makes because she deserves it for paying equal parts attention to her family life. *insert angry face here*
Now let us talk about the book from a slightly more literary POV. The events almost seemed like accusations; the characters predictable and black and white. There was no grey. I feel like there was zero research done. Had this story taken place in 1980 I would have bought it. What the author very conveniently forgets to account is that a large number of immigrants are now 2nd and some 3rd generations in the USA. The struggles aren’t the same as they were for 1st generation immigrants. We (2nd 3rd geners) are a million times more understanding towards our children’s needs.
Let’s take it to the flipside – the ‘homeland’ Pakistan. You really want me to believe, that in today’s Pakistan where social media is twice as popular as the USA, where the media enjoys freedom of speech greater than the USA — it was absolutely possible for a girl to be entrapped as such? Pakistan homes daughters who’s humanitarian efforts have been noted internationally (Bilquis Edhi) who’ve won Oscars (Sharmeen Obaid)and flown fighter jets (Ayesha_Farooq)– but this one poor girl had to endure marital rape (at the hands of her mother in law no less) and entrapment. I’m sorry I don’t buy the damsel in distress thing. Heck – if news of her talking to guy publically traveled that fast, how fast do you think news would have traveled if she told one of her neighbors that she was being held against her will? Or a taxi driver, or one of the helpers in the house? Tell someone – anyone.
I’m saddened that the author chose to feed into the typical stereotypes placed on the Pakistani people. I’m saddened to see that a woman in her position who has the power to enlighten; chose the opposite. But I guess she wrote what sells. Who wants to read about happily ever after?
PS – Apologies if this sounds more like a rant then a review. Some things that I really needed to get off my chest. I love forward to reading Aisha Saeed’s next book and hope with all my heart that it’s a more accurate picture of Naila in 2015.