A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
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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?
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