Written in the Stars

Book review by
Lucinda Dyer, Common Sense Media
Written in the Stars Book Poster Image
Compelling tale of Pakistani American forced into marriage.

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Kids say

age 14+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Descriptions of everyday life in Pakistan are vivid and informative. The large cast of characters gives readers insights into the wide range of cultural views held by Muslim families both in America and in Pakistan.

Positive Messages

Families, even those torn apart by seemingly unforgivable events, can begin a process of reconciliation.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Naila shows enormous courage in standing up for her rights against seemingly impossible odds, and Saif never wavers in his determination to rescue her. Naila's cousin, Selma, takes great risks to help her.


Naila's father slaps her, her uncle drags her off a bus, and her mother-in-law kicks her. A man drugs his niece to get her to comply with a forced marriage; there's a threat that she’ll be killed if she dishonors her family by leaving her husband. A man rapes his wife, but it's not shown, and then he expresses remorse. 


Minor kissing.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Naila and her brother, Imran, have a few coughing, eye-watering puffs from a hookah pipe while they're in Pakistan. A teen girl is drugged by her uncle.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Written in the Stars is the story of Naila, a Pakistani American high school senior, torn between love for her culturally conservative immigrant parents and Saif, the boyfriend she keeps secret from them. When her outraged parents discover the romance, they take Naila and her brother on a "vacation" to visit relatives in rural Pakistan, with plans to force her into an arranged marriage to a local man. There's minor kissing, some physical violence (a girl's father slaps her, and another adult relative kicks her), and one incident of marital rape that's not described.

User Reviews

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Kid, 12 years old August 6, 2018

Written in the stars

SOME SPOILERS Really good book. A wonderful plot line, but some bad things happen to the main character. Naila, the main character, is drugged and forced into m... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byIlikebooks1837 May 7, 2018

Good if You’re Mature Enough

The book handles many mature topics. The story is also very sad and while reading it I cried multiple times. Overall it’s a good book but not great.

What's the story?

When Pakistani American teen Naila lies to her parents so she can attend prom with her boyfriend, Saif, she has no idea of the high price she’ll pay for that deception. Shocked by their daughter’s disobedience, Naila's parents use a family trip to Pakistan as cover for their plan to force her into marriage with a man they will choose for her. At first, Nalia's excited by the adventure of her first trip to Pakistan and meeting her father's large extended family, but as their return to the United States is constantly postponed, she grows suspicious of her parents’ motives. When her cousin, Selma, reveals her parents have found a husband for her and are planning a wedding, Naila uses the cell phone Saif gave her and secretly calls him for help. But within days, Naila finds herself married to man she does not know and watched constantly by his disapproving mother and sister. With no one in her family willing to help her, she must rely on Saif to come to her rescue.

Is it any good?

Author Aisha Saeed, a Pakistani American whose own happy marriage was "semi-arranged" by her parents, brings authenticity and a welcome lack of what easily could have been overblown melodrama. Although few readers may ever face a forced marriage, all can identify with Naila's struggles to follow rules set by her parents while finding independence for herself. 

The book should start meaningful conversations between parents and teens not only about rules and expectations but the issue of women’s rights throughout the world.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how far parents should go in making choices for their teens. How would you feel if it were up to your parents to decide whom you date and where you go to college?

  • Has media coverage of events in the Middle East influenced your opinion of Muslim Americans? Do you think of Muslims as one large cohesive group, or do you see them as individuals with differing religious and cultural beliefs?

  • Have you ever gotten in trouble because your parents read a text message or other social media post about your plans

Book details

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For kids who love coming-of-age stories and diverse characters

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