Review: Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

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Goodreads | Blackwells

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. 

This was one of the books I’ve had on my TBR for the longest, and I’m so glad I finally got around to reading it. For a while, I’ve had it in the back of my mind that this was a fantasy book, but it was actually a contemporary. Once I realised this, I absolutely stormed through this book and read it in a day. I just couldn’t put it down and needed to know what was going to happen to Naila.

This book certainly wasn’t a light one – Naila goes through a lot throughout this story and parts of it were utterly heartbreaking and left me horrified. But this was also such an important story as it shows something people go through in real life, which made it all the more horrific but also crucial to read.

My mother always says when you fight destiny, destiny fights back. Some things, they’re just written in the stars.

I really sympathised with Naila as a main character but I didn’t quite feel as connected to the characters as much as I wanted to. I think mainly because this book is quite short and feels full of action, leaving not much room for character development. As much as I did feel sympathetic for what Naila was going through, I never felt as emotional as I expected or wanted to.

The plot was very fast paced and I honestly didn’t want to put this book down (which is why I read it in a day!). I felt so sucked into this story and I am still thinking about it over a week later. I did find some of the plot points quite predictable and I didn’t find any of it surprising, but I did still enjoy the journey.

You can try but you can never escape what’s meant to be.

Although I did feel like this book was a narrow (and quite negative) look at Islam and Pakistani culture, as the author pointed out in the Author’s Note, this is unfortunately something that happens to a very small amount of people across race, culture and religions. I was so glad to have such an insight into Naila’s story and even though this book was hard hitting, it felt like a very important read and I really enjoyed it.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state candidate – as long as he’s behind the scenes. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya.
Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is cancelled, her parents are separating and now her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing – with some awkward guy she hardly knows …
Going door to door isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer – and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural crush of the century is another thing entirely. 

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this book through work and I was super excited to find it! I’ve loved all of Becky Albertalli’s book so far, and this one didn’t let me down.

Maya and Jamie were such great protagonists. Jamie was so sweet and awkward and I related to him a lot. I adored his love for Target, because I also have a weird obsession with big department stores and find it really fun to go shopping when it’s quiet. I found Maya so interesting to read about because of her religion. I often find religion isn’t shown a lot in YA and it was fascinating to read about Maya being Muslim in the way it should be written – like it’s normal. Because it is.

I also adored the characters’ passion for politics. Maya and Jamie get to know each other through canvassing and politics, and it was so lovely to read about teenagers being interested in something so important. The other characters in the book were so lovable too – especially Jamie’s grandmother! She’s a social media influencer and she is the most amazing character. Both of Maya and Jamie’s families were so great as supporting character’s and the rest of the friends were fascinating too. I loved how much friendships and family relationships were written about and included too, especially the hard parts. It made the book so real and relatable!

The romance was the sweetest thing and I loved reading about it. It was a little cliche, but I was rooting for them all the way. I couldn’t help but love them. As Alex also said in her review, I was constantly reminded in little ways of my boyfriend and I realising we liked each other just before we got together, and it made me smile every time!

I had so much fun buddy reading this with Alex and Faye. This book was so easy to read and I couldn’t put it down once I picked it up. I could have probably read over a hundred pages at a time, I was enjoying it so much!

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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