Written: There Are No Choices. It was Already Written.
Author: D.A. Lee
Released: December 9, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Literature, Women’s Fiction, Psychological Fiction, Self-Help
Written is the heart-wrenching story of a young girl’s struggle for freedom, and the uncovering of an intricate plan laced around forty years of secrets, betrayal and lies, in a family desperate to preserve their culture and honour.
Four-year-old Eleanor is forced to accept her mother’s religious beliefs, that her whole life has already been written, and that she has no choice but to honour and accept her parents’ plans for her.
Subject to abuse by an Islamic teacher, and witness to scenes of violence inflicted by her father, Eleanor finds her only refuge at school, where she dreams of a life beyond the hills of her hometown of Ashcroft, England.
A mysterious woman befriends Eleanor – showing her a world of choice and freedom. Caught between her parents’ cultural values and her own desires, Eleanor must decide whether to honour her parents’ wishes – a life locked in marriage to the hands of an abuser – or rewrite her own story.
Written, by D.A. Lee, is a riveting story following a little girl as she struggles to find her golden truth in a world full of darkness.
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My tormentors couldn’t find me here. At school my horrors were diminished by the praise of my teachers, the orderly classrooms and the playfulness of my friends. Here I could forget about home, forces that felt unnatural to me and, most of all, that sickening place called mosque. I prayed that the daylight hours never ceased, but as the sun set in the winter afternoons, blackening the skies into darkness, my fears came alive. My only focus now at the mosque was to avoid the man. I wore sandals with socks, even though the bitter winter nipped at my toes, just so I could leave the hall faster. I passed the prayer room, diving behind my brother to pass up his remarks or praise.
To have the freedom of religion is a powerful feeling that one can embrace with pride, joy, and self-revelation. To be forced into abiding by a religion is complete oppression. It can be belittling, detrimental to one’s mind, body, and spirit. A religion where men can dominate over women to the point that women are not free to live their best life is crippling. To read this story, you’ll have to fully open your mind to the ways of another culture. This is a riveting story following a little girl as she struggles to find her golden truth.
Eleanor is a little girl, growing up in a Muslim family. Her mother and father have already planned everything for her life as Allah has written it. Girls must grow up and cover themselves with intricately adorned fabric and jewels, from head to toe. They must only eat after the men have eaten. They are not allowed to be educated because they must raise their children. But, most importantly, they must always abide by their husbands and uphold her family’s honor. Eleanor was taught the rules as early as four-years-old and everything has been ingrained inside of her ever since. Through abuse and domestic violence, she holds onto the hope that she will one day be able to write her own story. When her salvation comes, it is in the form of a beautiful and kind woman dressed in a fur coat, who shatters the facade that her parents have preached to her for her entire life. Eleanor takes comfort in this woman’s words, knowing that her family can take much from her, but not without a fight.
Lee’s story, while fictional, is based on true and personal events from her journals of self-healing. What more can a reader ask for than true credibility in every sense of the word? Readers will find this story hard to get through, but also impossible to put down. Lee has characters who will test your capacity for sadness and joy. These characters will also test a reader’s faith and morality. The story is written very well and fast-paced, a real page-turner filled with love, compassion, betrayal, determination, courage, and secrets. What captivated us the most was the front cover of this book, because of its striking allure. When first seeing this beautiful woman with tears streaming down her face, jewels surrounding her, and a bruise on her jaw, we wanted to know her story and we think this will appeal to others too. If you are a reader of women’s and psychological fiction, self-help, and cultural practices, you will not want to pass this one up.
An electronic copy of this book was provided to Turning Another Page by Reedsy Discovery and in no way affects the honesty of this review. We provide a five-star rating to Written: There are No Choices. It was Already Written. by D.A. Lee.
D.A. Lee is a Bangladeshi-born British author, artist and poet, best known for her novel ‘Written’ published in 2019. Raised in a small town in Lancashire, England, Lee describes the cultural challenges of growing up in a Bengali household whilst navigating a western world.
Lee’s novel, whilst fictional, draws on many of her own experiences of growing up in a Muslim family and explores the underworld of cultural expectations, arranged marriages, honour, abuse and domestic violence that often limit women’s choices.
Lee first started writing as a form of self-healing through the challenges of home life. The word ‘Written’ had become a poignant theme throughout the book, a word often expressed culturally to describe the notion of determinism and predestination adopted by most traditional Muslim families as a common explanation for events in life. Lee takes us on a journey through her character Eleanor, a young girl caught between a web of family secrets and lies where she comes into conflict with these values.
Today, Lee is an advocate for women’s freedom of choice and encourages women to speak out and seek help if they feel they are in danger.
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