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The Writing on My Forehead

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  1,633 Ratings  ·  246 Reviews

“A brainy, beautiful braid of stories about three generations of a Muslim family. This book…will go a long way toward deconstructing stereotypes about American Muslims, and that, on top of its value as a work of fiction, makes it a treasure.” — Minneapolis Star Tribune

A brilliant bestselling debut novel from author Nafisa Haji, The Writing on My Forehead describes one wom

Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published (first published 2009)
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
I'm stuck between 3 and 4 stars for this one. I settled on 4 because I like the roll of the prose. Very readable. Some of the "big reveals" are perhaps a bit too predictable---or maybe it's just that I'm a genius. ;-)

As Saira reaches adolescence, she begins to probe her family history while on a visit to Pakistan. She discovers some juicy secrets her parents had been keeping from her, but as time goes by also gains a new respect for the choices and struggles of various family members.

There's a
Aug 26, 2011 Jasminka rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
This is a wonderful novel, so moving, tragic, emotional, captivating, full of wisdom...
This is a story of mother-daughters and sisters relationships, a story about family ties and family secrets and loyalties, a story about the past and the future, about personal journey of young Muslim-American curious, questioning girl with strong Pakistani-Indian heritage who grows into an independent woman, struggling between tradition and modernity.
The message of this so enchanting book is that your family
May 02, 2014 Tonkica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jedna dobra prica o familiji koja kao i svaka ima svojih tajni, zamjeranja, ljubavi, postovanja, prihvacanja..
Jun 17, 2009 Tahira rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
For the majority of the past year, I've been searching for novels written by Pakistanis, about Pakistanis. As someone who both identifies as a writer and South Asian, I figure that any future personal projects would be strongly influenced by my background. I was curious to see how other writers, those who identify similarly to me, would navigate this kind of task especially with consideration to the audience. I fear that Nafisa Haji hasn't really given readers a well-crafted story here and so I ...more
Rahat  Asif
May 10, 2013 Rahat Asif rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
Every family has secrets. Some they keep because they don't want to face the truth by repeating it to their next generation. Some things become secrets because your elders don't consider them to be important enough for you to know. And some are kept because they don't want the people involved to be hurt.

This book is about family and relationships within families, how history can repeat itself, how your one decision can affect others and the future generations, about past regrets and future worr
Betty Curran
Jun 15, 2011 Betty Curran rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and have shared it with many of my friends. Not only is it a story of a young woman becoming an independent adult but it reveals many of the difficulties in blending two totally different cultures. One can only imagine the feelings of guilt when Saira chose a different lifestyle than that dictated by family tradition. Choices made by other family members also come to light as being quite untraditional and in the case of a much loved aunt gives support to the decisi ...more
I am filing this novel with a host of other readable, but ultimately forgettable, "light fiction by women writers covering the EastmeetsWest theme" - Chitra Divakaruni, Preethi Nair, Roopa Farooki, Nikita Lalwani* (all reviewed here on my bookshelf).

Although momentous historical events (Partition, 9/11) & complex cultural/religious issues feature in The Writing on My Forehead, the treatment is too "light" to bear any substantial commentary on these complex socio-political issues. The book h
Laura de Leon
Apr 16, 2009 Laura de Leon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads, fiction
I received this book from a Goodreads first reads giveaway. I signed up for several books that looked interesting, and was excited to hear I was selected for this one.

I found this book both entertaining and thought provoking. In one sense, this is the story of Saira and her sister. It is the story of of a girl growing into a woman and of the meeting of cultures. It is also the story of an extended family, and many other sibling pairs within it. More than anything else, it is a story of relations
Rebekka Steg
May 07, 2012 Rebekka Steg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed "The Writing on My Forehead" by Nafisa Haji. The novel provides an excellent glimpse into an Indian/Pakistani Muslim family's history. It is a novel that keeps unfolding itself, reaching deeper and deeper into the family's past. Not only does this novel manage to provide an insight into the Indian/Pakistani Muslim culture, it also shows beautifully how our past and our family members past shapes us and continue to shape us today. "The Writing on My Forehead" is a break with ...more
Jamila El-Jabry
Jun 29, 2011 Jamila El-Jabry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Writing on my Forehead by Nafisa Haji—amazing book with a great twist at the end—a story about a Saira Qader, an American teenager of Indo-Pakistani descent, lives a sheltered life in California with her older sister, Ameena, and their overprotective and fiercely traditional parents. Saira’s view of her family changes dramatically when she attends a wedding in Karachi and learns that her mother had lied to her about Saira’s grandfather: he is not dead but living in London with a second famil ...more
Mar 22, 2010 Harvee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent novel about family ties and a woman's role in a traditional culture. More here... Guest post on her writing by author Nafisa Haji.
Ben Babcock
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tezar Yulianto
Judul: Gadis Pemberontak
Judul Asli: The Writing on My Forehead
Penulis: Nafisa Haji
Penerjemah: Alan Taufiq Hidayat
Penerbit: Literati
Jumlah Halaman: 410
Cetakan: I, Juli 2010
ISBN: 9786028740074

Saira Qader, anak seorang Indo-Pakistani yang tinggal di Amerika Serikat, hidup dengan keketatan aturan agamis yang dibawakan oleh ibunya. Namun sifat keras kepalanya juga rasa dibandingkan dengan Ameena, kakaknya yang lebih taat. Kunjungannya ke pernikahan sepupunya dari pihak keluarga ibunya di Pakistan, di
Oct 13, 2008 Serena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nafisa Haji's The Writing on my Forehead transports readers into another culture and the struggles that members find themselves in as the world around them evolves, causing clashes between modernity and the past. Told from the point of view of Saira, readers are taken on a very personal journey into the past, uncovering the deep secrets of Saira's grandmother and grandfather as well as her own parents. The dynamic between Saira and her sister is only partially shown, with the point of view of Am ...more
Feb 10, 2012 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction, 2012
4.5 stars. I found this book by chance at the library and am glad I did, for it was quite an interesting read. Saira was born and raised near Los Angeles to Indo-Pakistani immigrants, leaving her struggling to fit in with her mom, who thinks all good girls just need to get married, and her dad, who's very quiet and lets the mom rule the house. Saira wants some sort of independence from this and to select her own path in life, not just follow the one her mom wants, so she leaves and becomes a jou ...more
May 19, 2009 Dave rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature, fiction
I very much enjoyed “The Writing on My Forehead”, the first book by Nafisa Haji. She draws from her own life to setup the scenes of the novel, which takes place in California, Karachi, London, and Mumbai, all of which figure in her own childhood and upbringing. The culture, religion, and issues that her characters face are also ones which she likely faced, and she does a wonderful job of describing them.

This novel is written from the point of view of Saira Qadar, who like Nafisa is a Muslim of I
Feb 26, 2009 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this story, protagonist, Saira Quader is a second generation immigrant of Indo and Pakistani descent, who lives in California with her traditional parents and her older sister Ameena. While trying to honor her Muslim roots, Saira's free spirit and rebelliousness, has her wanting more out of life. Influenced by a great aunt who was a literary scholar, Saira wants to go to college, She chooses a non traditional career as a Muslim-American journalist.

(p.40)..."It had never occurred to me to wond
Jun 11, 2009 Lauren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dre
The Writing on My Forehead is part of the growing genre about the immigrant experience in the US. It is the story of Saira Qader and her family, spanning 20 years and three continents. Saira's parents are Indian Moslems with their "global network" of family ties in England and Pakistan as well as the US. Saira's mother, Shabana, is very traditional, banning anything shorter than the knee after 12, eschewing Western-style dancing, performing in school plays. Any deviation from her view as appropr ...more
Apr 23, 2014 Sara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Besides being the first book I have ever read by a Pakistani writer and having the subject matter be something so close to my everyday experiences, this book just didn't do it for me.

As much as I wanted to like Saira, the supposedly spunky heroine of the novel, I couldn't get past her almost inauthentic voice. To be fair, the poor choices in regards to perspective and point of view made by the author is mostly to blame for that. The story starts in present tense, with Saira in her sister's hous
Mar 25, 2010 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely enjoyed my journey through this novel. In the first half, the reader is plunged into a series of stories and family history with 14-year-old Saira as she journeys from Los Angeles to London to Pakistan for her cousin’s wedding. I felt as though I were sitting in a room full of Saira’s family members, drinking tea and listening to each of them tell me their story. The second part of the novel is Saira’s story of growing up and finding herself in spite of - or because of – her family’ ...more
Apr 01, 2010 DubaiReader rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: judiths-bk-grp, 2010
Great twist at the end :)

I really enjoyed this novel, it started off well and just kept getting better - until at the end we discover something that I never would have guessed. That, for me, is the sure sign of a good book.

The central character is Saira, the younger sister of Ameena. Although Ameena is very happy in her arranged marriage to Shuja, this is not enough to convince Saira that she wants to settle down to married life. Living in America, travelling to Pakistan, Saira also has relative
Elise Grinstead
Aug 09, 2012 Elise Grinstead rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Haji has an unique ability to take a span of a lifetime and fluidly wrap it into 200 something pages. Even better--though it's overall in chronological order, she weaves moments of the past, even previous generations, into the story effortlessly. A very enjoyable read.

More than that--there were two passages that really struck me:
“I’m not normally so impressed by young writers. Altogether too self-consciously clever, too pat, too neat. Creative nonfiction is particularly repulsive—blurring the li
Lori Weir
Feb 10, 2012 Lori Weir rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A masterful tale of culture--a family's history as it unfolds parallel to modern history--and how individual choices affect so many. A fascinating glimpse into an Indo Pakistani world where family and culture are embedded into the main character's life, no matter how she tries to distance herself. The Indo Pakistani family relationship rules shape the lives and decisions of all the characters, even those who think they are rebelling. Family love is paradoxical - all encompassing, all inclusive w ...more
Mar 01, 2009 Beth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary_fiction
A very good first novel with an interesting post-9/11 theme and a historical undercurrent. My main complaint is that it needed a bit more editing. Why did the acquiring editor allow her to quote a side character's boring political speech about journalism at length? My eyes glazed over after about the third sentence, and it went on for more than a page. It had nothing to do with the story, and in fact it made it seem less likely that the main character would actually find him attractive the way s ...more
Nov 15, 2009 Robin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Robin by: Sally Thomas
A very good book; a compelling and thoughtfully written work. Many favorite well crafted sentences, the opening being my favorite. "I close my eyes and imagine the touch of my mother's hand on my forehead, smoothing away the residue of childhood nightmares." ...."I remember her soothing touch and appreciate it with an intensity that I never felt when she was alive.I shake my head to dispel the longing."

"...few cared about Rushdie's novel per se. It was its effect that was the story, not its cont
Jun 26, 2009 Sharon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This one is an easy book to get into. It is a story told from the perspective of young Saira, a Pakistani girl living outside of Pakistan. We journey with her to Pakistan for an aunt's wedding, where she learns of her family's troubles from wonderful gossipy older ladies.

In between paans, photos and juicy tales, we fall in love with Saira and see her relationships with her older sister, Ameena, and her parents and extended family through her eyes.

The most significant relationship so far seems t
Dec 09, 2011 Karol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
مريم يوسف
Oct 23, 2013 مريم يوسف rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I deeply enjoyed the rebellious element of this book. How culture and tradition are always viewed as barriers that limit our potential, instead of the contrary.
Whoever reads this book develops along with its characters. When Saira, the protagonist, adopts a mindset, so will the reader. When she makes certain decisions that aren't quite acceptable in her culture, she has a way of convincing us that, to her, it is.

I love when novels of the same genre open up different doors to different perspecti
Nov 21, 2009 Josie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful, utterly beautiful. I totally absorbed into the writing of the wonderdul story of culture, struggles, family and pursuing your own path in life. I enjoyed the wonderful stories that are told throughout this book, and read on with a hunger for everything to be alright and turn out ok.
The twists the stroy has are both surprising and endearing.
For a 1st novel I think it is a great start to what I hope is a budding career for this writer, and I hope to be able to enjoy more books from her
Feb 25, 2010 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a story of Saira, a first generation Muslim American of Indo-Pakistani background. She rebels against her family's culture, faith and values by becoming a journalist who travels the world telling other people's stories. In the process she discovers her own grandfathers' stories and when tragedy strikes her family she has to reevaluate her faith and her place in her family. The story takes place in India, Pakistan, London and Los Angeles.
I really enjoyed this book. It made me think about
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Nafisa Haji is an American of Indo-Pakistani descent. She was born and mostly raised in Los Angeles—-mostly, because there were years also spent in Chicago, Karachi, Manila, and London. Her family migrated from Bombay to Karachi in 1947 during Partition, when the Indian Subcontinent was divided into two states. In the late 1960s, Nafisa's parents came to the United States, shortly before she was b ...more
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“that there are many things that we cant understand. the past. the bad things that happened... and we become afraid. of what might happen in the future. its okay to be afraid. but we have to keep hoping and believeing... to keep hoping and trying our best to be good and do good. even when we're afraid” 53 likes
“You won't understand this now, Saira. Later, perhaps. When you are older. When you learn that life is not only about the choices you make. That some of them will be made for you.” 22 likes
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