Written In The Stars by Aisha SaeedWritten In The Stars by Aisha Saeed

Written In The Stars

byAisha Saeed

Paperback | May 3, 2016

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A heart-wrenching tale of forbidden love

'A wonderfully complex love story unlike any you’ve read before. Saeed has given a novel that is both entertaining and important.”—Matt de la Peña, New York Times bestselling author
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.
Aisha Saeed (aishasaeed.com) is a Pakistani American writer, teacher, and attorney. Her writings have appeared in publications including The Orlando Sentinel, Muslim Girl magazine, and Rivaaj magazine. As one of the founding members of the much talked about We Need Diverse Books Campaign, she is helping to change the conversation about...
Title:Written In The StarsFormat:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.79 inPublished:May 3, 2016Publisher:Penguin Young Readers GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0147513936

ISBN - 13:9780147513939


Rated 4 out of 5 by from loved it! Very interesting read with poignant moments and well developed characetrs.
Date published: 2018-05-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved it The ending seemed a bit harder to believe but the story itself was easily believable. I felt so many things for the main character: sorrow, happiness, hurt and anger. I was not expecting this book to be as good as it was. I would recommend. Very different from most YA reads
Date published: 2017-05-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Alright It was interesting enough, I would recommend it.
Date published: 2017-03-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Famous book in my heart. 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.
Date published: 2017-01-26
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not Quite Real Enough More like 2.5 stars. I feel bad giving it only two, because it wasn't a bad book - it was just okay. It was heart wrenching, yes, and interesting, and I raced through it, but in the context of this book, this isn't saying much. I say this because this book completely depended upon its Message in order to create all of those responses, captivate readers and tell a story. It was an important Message, yes, and an important problem, but I am getting tired of books that prioritize the Big Important Message over things like plot development, character development, setting and motivations. It depended on the heart wrenching nature of its premise for its storytelling when, really, both the storytelling and the premise suffered for it. If they really want to get a point across and make this the deeply memorable story it ought to be, then it would benefit from more - more character development, more exploration of motivations, more setting, more buildup for the romance. I'll remember this book because it presented an Issue to me that I found engaging and important, not because the particular story was interesting, and that's kind of sad.
Date published: 2016-12-14

Read from the Book

Chapter 1 “Naila, I wish you didn’t have to miss the game.” Carla tells me.“Game?” I check the road, on the lookout for my mom, before turning to her. She rolls her eyes, her blonde hair up in its cheerleader ponytail. Our lives may have changed a lot since we met in first grade, but that eye roll and the annoyed pout, that hasn’t changed at all.“Game?” She looks at Eric. “Do you believe her? It’s only the last game of Saif’s high school career.” She turns to me. “Naila, are you really going to miss this one too?”“You know I can’t go.”“It’s his last game, Naila.”I glance back at Saif. He’s wearing his blue soccer jersey and chatting with a friend a safe distance away by the green mosaic mural next to our high school’s school entrance. I take in his lean frame, his olive skin, and the brown hair that brushes against his eyes. He catches my eye just then; his dimple deepens with his smile. He takes a step towards us, and then stops, remembering why he can’t approach.“See?” Carla exhales. “He knows he can’t even stand here with us because your parents might freak out.”“My mom might freak out if she sees Eric standing here too,” I remind her, jabbing a finger towards the road.“I still don’t get it,” she continues. “He’s the sweetest boyfriend ever. Any parent should be thankful their daughter met a guy like him. What’s their deal?”I’ve explained it all to her too many times. I’m starting to think she just doesn’t want to hear it. “It’s complicated,” I finally say.“Well you know what’s not complicated?” she counters. “That he’s the most understanding guy I’ve ever met. Seriously, Eric,” she touches his arm, “would we be celebrating our three month anniversary next week if I never so much as stepped past this curb with you?”Eric clears his throat, “Um, good question, but,” he glances back, “I think Saif’s calling me so uh, I’ll leave you both to discuss that.” He kisses Carla and jogs over to Saif.Good, I think, relaxing a little now that I am alone with Carla.“I want to go tonight, Carla,” I tell her, “you know I do, but my parents—”“Oh, come on!” Carla shakes her head. “They can’t keep you locked up forever. Just sneak out the window. Just this once! You’re not twelve-years-old. Besides, your parents zonk out by 9 o’clock anyways. I can pick you up. At least you’ll catch the last half. It would mean so much to him.”“I wish I could but I can’t. We’ll be in college this time next year, I can’t risk getting caught now.”I don’t mention the tension between my parents ever since I got my acceptance letter last week and the hushed arguments about whether or not I will go away to college at all.“Hey,” Saif calls out to Carla, “Eric and I are leaving without you if you don’t hurry up!”“Fine,” Carla rolls her eyes at me. “You can’t say I didn’t try.”She walks over to join Saif and Eric. Before they all head to the student parking lot, Saif turns to look at me. Love you, I mouth to him. I press my palm to my lips and blow him a silent kiss. He grins— and then, they disappear behind the curve.Only now does my jaw unclench, my shoulders relax. And only now do I let myself acknowledge that familiar mixture of relief and guilt that has been my companion this past year.Has it already been a year? I think back. Yes. It’s been one year since Saif told me he cared about me as more than just his friend. It’s been one year since I told him I felt the same way and kissed him in the side-courtyard with the tangled palm trees next to the library, deciding it was time to let my heart, and not fear, dictate what I would do. And, my stomach tightens; it’s been one year since I began deceiving my parents without ever once opening my mouth.I hear a honk. My mother’s minivan pulls up to the curb.“Sorry, beta, I had to stop and get gas,” she says when I get inside. Her hair, more black than gray, is tied up in a loose bun, a large red scarf circles her neck despite today’s unusually hot Florida sun. “I didn’t realize I was this late though,” she scans the empty school entrance. “You should have stayed inside until you saw my car, you never know who is out there.”“Carla was here,” I tell her quickly. “She only just left.”“She’s a good girl.” My mother smiles. “I’m glad you’re both still friends.”“Well,” I begin, “she was telling me about a soccer game tonight. She really wants me to go and support the team too. The school year’s almost over and all our friends are going to be there, and, well, we’ll be roommates in a few months anyways, so I was wondering¾““No,” my mother shoots me a surprised look. “You know that.”“But Ami,” I begin.“It’s not you I’m worried about. It’s all the boys that would be there. Besides, Auntie Lubna is having a party tonight, did you forget already?”“Is Imran going?” I bite my lip, knowing the answer.“He has to study,” she responds.“Why can Imran skip these parties but I never can?”“What’s gotten into you today?” my mother glances at me. “If you don’t go people will wonder, you know how they talk. Besides, your brother gets bored. He doesn’t have anyone his own age at these things. I already ironed your salwar kamiz. We’ll leave as soon as your Abu can shut down the dry cleaning business for the day.”I lean back into the seat. I’ve gone to more of my parent’s dinner parties than I can count. Gatherings of my parent’s friends, all Pakistani immigrants like themselves who meet almost every week at one another’s homes to talk in the language they grew up in and listen to the music of their childhood.I used to even eye Saif from afar at these dinner parties, until his sister Jehan got married to someone that shocked the entire community. His name was Justin. They didn’t know much about him, except that he was definitely not Pakistani.“We all saw it coming,” my mother had said in a horrified voice on the phone to her sister. “They never had any control over their kids what else do you expect?”I think my mother and her friends might have forgiven them this marriage had Saif’s parents seemed remorseful about Jehan marrying outside the South Asian community. But Saif’s parents didn’t seem ashamed at all.No one invites them anymore.I watch the trees that line the road fly by as we drive past. It’s almost summertime. Not that anyone can tell. Elsewhere there are seasons. Leaves bloom green and then turn gold and crimson as they fall to the earth, change coming to everything in its path.Except here.In my world the leaves stay green, the same Florida heat beating down on us, day after day, year after year. Unchanging.But not for long. Soon things will change. Soon they will have to. I’ve spent my entire life banking on this very truth.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Written in the Stars“Readers will be drawn into Naila’s trials and tribulations as she navigates the reality of her new life in Pakistan and explores what inner resources she needs to change her fate. . . . Sheds light on the difficult phenomenon of forced marriage, still prevalent in many cultures around the world and often shrouded in silence.”—Kirkus Reviews“Movingly conveys the intense cultural pressure that motivates Naila’s parents and the heartbreaking betrayal Naila feels as she is deprived of her rights, cut off from the outside world, and threatened with shame and death. Saeed includes resources for those who, like Saif’s family, wish to help real-life Nailas, in this wrenching but hopeful story.”—Publishers Weekly“Compelling. . . . This is a cross-cultural eye opener . . . Resonates in its explanations of the rituals, especially how they would look and feel from an American point of view. Yet the setting is pure Pakistani, with culturally rich descriptions of Naila’s extended family, their cuisine, and strongly held beliefs. . . . Evocative.”—School Library Journal“Naila’s harrowing story is compellingly told. . . . Stirring, haunting, and ultimately hopeful.”—Booklist“Saeed’s portrayal of a bicultural young woman is spot on in terms of both Naila’s expectations of eventual autonomy and her confusion over what is happening to her; she can’t imagine that her life is completely out of her own control. . . . An author’s note explains that while her own ‘semiarranged’ marriage was a success, she wrote the book to draw attention to the ‘silent epidemic’ of forced marriage; through Naila’s ordeal, readers will certainly have their eyes opened to how someone can be forced to marry against her will.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Booksauthor endorsements“This suspenseful story about a young woman trapped in a marriage she doesn’t want will make your heart ache. I couldn’t put it down.”—Suzanne Fisher Staples, author of Newbery Honor winner Shabanu“In this beautiful debut novel, Saeed offers a look inside the heartbreaking realities of a young woman caught between her American upbringing and her parents’ traditional views on love and marriage. This is a page-turner about love, culture, family—and the perilous journey into womanhood worldwide. I couldn’t put it down.”—Meg Medina, author of Pura Belpré Author Award winner Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass“Written in the Stars is a wonderfully complex love story unlike any you’ve read before. Saeed has given a novel that is both entertaining and important.”—Matt de la Peña, author of Pura Belpré Author Honor winner The Living