Hey everyone! I’m so excited to be a part of Aisha Saeed’s blog tour for her debut novel, Written in the Stars (Out now)! For my blog tour stop, I have a guest post from Aisha! Plus, there’s an awesome giveaway! First, here’s some more information about Written in the Stars:
This heart-wrenching novel explores what it is like to be thrust into an unwanted marriage. Has Naila’s fate been written in the stars? Or can she still make her own destiny?
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.
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And now here’s Aisha’s Guest Post!! Enjoy!
Balancing Two Cultures
by Aisha Saeed
When my parents emigrated from Pakistan to the United States, they were the first in their families to leave behind their ancestral lands. It is a huge leap of faith to leave behind not only your family and friends, but also everything you know for the hope to create a better life for yourself and for future generations. It’s a leap of faith I’m so thankful they took.
Growing up, just like the parents in Written in the Stars, my parents also valued their cultural heritage. Because of the value they placed on remembering where we came from, I can speak two Pakistani languages, have a closetful of salwar kamizes [traditional Pakistani clothing] that I wear to special events and on holidays, and can make many South Asian dishes including a mean biryani. Beyond just the physical traditions such as clothing and food, I also appreciate the many Pakistani values my parents imparted upon me, like the emphasis on family and community. Growing up in the United States with our relatives overseas, our Pakistani American community became our family. We went to each other’s homes for dinner each week (much like Naila did), and we relied and turned to each other for support when things were tough. For my parents, these weekly meetings with their friends helped anchor them in the familiar in what was a beloved but often unfamiliar new country.
Despite all the benefits of growing up with two cultures, it was not without its challenges. Because my parents were not born and raised in the United States there were many cultural things they didn’t understand. For example, most children know what Valentine’s Day is, but I didn’t so I ended up being the only kid in kindergarten without any cards to hand out. My parents also didn’t go to schools like mine growing up, so prom and football games were completely foreign, and consequently, a bit intimidating for them to consider allowing me to go to. It was sometimes a little rough, wanting to do things my classmates did but not being able to because of the cultural divide that separated us.
I found myself turning a great deal to people who really got just how hard it was to balance these two worlds: my Pakistani-American friends. Much like Naila turned to her boyfriend Saif, I relied on these friends to understand the unique challenges we faced. We gave each other advice and by leaning on one other we made our way through navigating two cultures we appreciated and valued but that could be very different from each other at times.
Now that I’m an adult, I am thankful to have found a happy balance between my parents’ culture and my American culture. It was a balancing act and it wasn’t always easy, but now I feel immeasurably blessed to have the benefits of both in my life and to be able to enjoy the best of both worlds.
And don’t forget to enter the awesome giveaway we have for you! Simply fill out the Rafflecopter below:
About the Author:
Aisha Saeed is an author, mama, lawyer, teacher, and maker and drinker of chai. She is also the Vice President of Strategy for We Need Diverse Books™. Aisha has been blogging for over a decade and her writing has also appeared in places such as The Orlando Sentinel, BlogHer, Muslim Girl Magazine, and Red Tricycle. She is also a contributing author to the anthology Love Inshallah
While Aisha loves writing about a variety of topics, her main passion lies in channeling her inner teen. Her debut YA novel WRITTEN IN THE STARS will be released in 2015 by Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Books. She is represented by Taylor Martindale at Full Circle Literary Agency.
When Aisha isn’t writing or chasing her two little boys, you can find her reading, baking, doodling henna patterns, or daydreaming about eight consecutive hours of sleep.
You can connect with Aisha at her website, or follow along on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or Tumblr.
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