Saeed, Aisha. Written in the Stars. New York: Nancy Paulsen Books, 2015. 978-0-399-17170-3. 284 p. $17.99. Gr. 8-11.
Naila yearns to join her friends in typical American teenage activities, but her conservative Pakistani parents won’t allow her to even talk to boys, let alone date them. They have no idea she has been in a secret relationship with Saif for a year — until they show up at prom and drag her off the dance floor. Furious and ashamed, they whisk her off to Pakistan, determined to rearrange her moral priorities before she is scheduled to begin college. In Pakistan, the author immerses Naila and the reader in the details of a rich culture: the women’s beautifully embroidered salwar kamizes, the fragrant chai, the boisterous kin. But Naila’s bliss is tinged with apprehension, which turns to terror and then desperation when she finds out her parents plan to marry her off to an unknown young man. While the dialogue may seem flat in some scenes, the sparse prose allows the reader to experience the culture shock Naila feels. U.S.-born Naila’s incredulous perspective provides American teens an authentic glimpse into a scenario that may be unbelievable to them but is unfortunately horrifyingly familiar to many South Asian girls.
Realistic Fiction Kristen Rowe, Plum Senior High School