Naila’s immigrant parents are very conservative but they allow her to wear her hair as she wants, study what she wants, have the career she wants, but all with the understanding that they will choose her husband. It’s their cultural belief that they arrange marriage for her and until then, dating is forbidden. Naila, though, can’t help but fall for Saif. When her parents find out, they’re furious and plan a trip to Pakistan to teach their children their roots. Naila thought it was a vacation to see the family she’s never met, but she soon discovers the truth. Her parents have found her a husband and plan for her to marry quickly. Naila’s only hope to escape is Saif but can he find her before it’s too late?
At just over 300 pages, this book ended up being a quick read but one that stood out. I thought the author did a great job showing the culture, the differences between an arranged marriage versus a forced marriage, why someone would accept an arranged marriage, and having villains in the story without vilifying an entire culture.
Naila, my heart broke for her many times. She was a great example of how a character can be so powerless yet remain strong. She fought every step of the way, she refused to just give in to something she never wanted. Even when her life was miserable, she still showed care and concern for others.
Most of the focus of the book was on Naila but her whole family was heavily involved in the plot. When Naila, her parents, and her brother first arrived in Pakistan and so many family members were there, always around, catching up, the huge family aspect was so familiar. The dynamic of the family was really interesting to see. Who people deferred to, who obviously didn’t agree with decisions made but kept quiet, what each person’s place in the family was. Saif, Naila’s boyfriend from home, played a huge role even though he barely appeared in the book. He was Naila’s hope and that hope helped her fight.
The book was very fast-paced. It seemed like only a few pages had been read and they were in Pakistan, then a few more and Naila was discovering the truth, then a few more and it was over. It flew by. Even with the fast pace, it didn’t take away from the horrors Naila experienced. It was hard to read, gut-wrenching, and it did a great job of being unforgettable.