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
May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽