Reviewed by Dimpel P.
The Writing on My Forehead begins with a young girl’s mother tracing verses on her forehead to quiet her nightmares. Saira Qader is a young Muslim-American girl that is rebellious in every way, wanting nothing more than her independence. Being of Indo-Pakistani descent, she rejects the ideas of strict cultural family values and duties.
Saira’s character is one that many young girls will find is not only easy to relate to, but has desires that are in alignment with their own. Children, especially young women, of Middle Eastern and Indian descent that grow up in America quickly learn that their dreams are not really their own. They are the dreams of those who, in some way, dictate an Indian woman’s life. Women of this culture are expected to live a certain way and fulfill the desires of their elders and parents who want their children to be successful in so many complex ways.
The Writing on My Forehead focuses on the needs of the family as well as the individual. Saira appreciates her familial obligations but also has aspirations of her own. In the novel, she travels to India for a cousin’s wedding and learns that her grandfather, whom she believed to be dead, is really alive. When she realizes that her mother has lied to her, her view of what a family is supposed to be changes dramatically. Saira then becomes resolute in her decision to attend college and not marry early like her sister did.
As she learns of her grandfather’s work with India’s independence movement, she fantasizes about a future as a war journalist. Saira travels the world with her cousin, who is a photographer, and is led to contend with issues ranging from arranged marriages to adultery.
The Writing on My Forehead will appeal to many readers, but will especially speak to young girls of Indo-Pakistani descent and give them courage to discover their hearts and follow their dreams. Haji has a talent for allowing a reader to become connected with the characters in the novel. I found this book to be rewarding in so many capacities and would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn about other cultures and the importance of diverse traditions.
Dimpel enjoys writing about Health & Medicine, Addiction & Recovery, and Self-Help. She previously worked as a medical assistant and did transcription and coding for medical and legal practices.
This book was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.