I bought this book after seeing one person’s review of it on the internet. I don’t remember what they said about it, but I know I was moved enough to purchase this book. I let it sit on my TBR pile for a while, though, because I wasn’t super excited to read it. That was clearly a mistake. I read this book in a day, though not all in one sitting, because I had things to do, but still. It was that good.
It was a quick read because it’s not very long and it has fairly large text, but I flew through it because the story was amazing. If you’re unfamiliar with it, here’s a brief overview: there is a young Pakistani-American girl named Naila who has been raised by her very conservative immigrant parents to know that their word is what goes, and that she will have her marriage arranged for her when the time comes. She sees hope, however, when she is about to graduate high school and start college with her best friend and (secret) boyfriend. However, right before graduation, her parents plan a sudden trip to Pakistan, which seems like a vacation and slowly turns into something more sinister, as they have found a boy for her to marry.
I don’t relate to any of the characters in this book. I do not come from a family where my parents have complete control over my life. I don’t have to worry that they could take away my happiness, and I definitely will not have an arranged marriage. I don’t know what it’s like not to have any say in where your life is going.
That doesn’t mean it isn’t happening, though. It’s not a secret that other countries (especially ones that are not prosperous) have arranged marriages to ensure that their daughters will be taken care of, but it happens in the U.S. too. Thousands of girls are forced to marry people against their will every year in the most developed countries, and no one is telling their stories.
Saeed sheds light on an issue that we don’t think about often because no one else talks about it. With all of the negativity around us every day, it’s easy to run to the happy books that tell light, fluffy stories, but we need to remember the issues. Sure, we can talk about political corruption, police brutality, and the fight for acceptance for diverse groups of individuals, and we should be talking about those things, but there are so many more things we’re not hearing about.
I think this book would be a good read for anyone, but it’s especially important for young women who have their future ahead of them because it shows that there are people who don’t have the same choices, and for different reasons than we might think. But the bottom line is that we need to be reading more books like this one. We should be reading more books about issues that are silenced and discussing the issues themselves as a society. There are so many stories to be told, and we need to hear more of them.