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Written

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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.

Synopsis

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.

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.

Reviewed by

Turning Another Page is a small web-based business, owned and operated out of San Antonio, Texas. Originally created as an official book blog in November 2014, Turning Another Page has successfully grown to encompass services that can be offered to authors worldwide.

Synopsis

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.

When I was about four years old, Mamajee and I would sit by the window, watching out on the rolling hills. We would watch the deep-green Pennines changing colour with the rising sun over the hilltops. The way those moody clouds covered the sky like a grey veil, shrouding the hills in darkness. Then a glimmer of orange and peach tones would break through, reflecting from the houses onto Mamajee’s face as she talked endlessly about her childhood. We would watch the planes fly over, beyond the hills, Mamajee’s watery eyes glazed over with a vacant, fixed stare as each one passed over and out of sight. “There goes another one,” she would sigh, returning to the fireplace where we ate our breakfast of crisp buttered toast and strong-brewed tea. I would watch her as she dipped the toast into the tea, soaking it in the cup, the juices from the bread dripping onto her chin occasionally as her mouth drew long breaths full of unspoken sentences. I watched that empty stare every morning, looking out of the window. “Mamajee, where is Bangladesh?” I asked her one morning. She sighed deeply between the morsels of bread and sips of tea. “It’s somewhere far, far away.” She whispered the vowels with long breaths as if to send each word there. “Farther than my school?” “Much farther – you couldn’t walk there. Oh, but it’s a beautiful place. Always green, there are rice fields, and the sun shines until it sets in the sky, and the children laugh and play all day.” A smile broke out on her lips, causing dimples in her cheeks and her eyes to sparkle as if by some miracle she was transported there. I smiled at the thought of being there. “Can we go there?” She rose up from the fireplace, slowly, almost dreamily walking to the window. “That would be all I’d wish for,” she said, shaking her head. “But it is not possible.” “Why, Mamajee? Why can’t we go back?” She breathed in as she looked up at the pale sky, the rolling towns across the Pennines, the stillness of it with the bare trees and shrubs that winter had now rendered lifeless across the landscape. A plane flew over, and her eyes followed it until it disappeared into a cloud. Her smile faded out, like sunbeams cast over by a rain cloud, as it passed out of sight. “Oh, can we go there tomorrow?” I asked eagerly. “No, not tomorrow.” Her expression saddened. “Why, Mamajee? Why can’t we go?” “Because…” She paused, distracted, shaking her head a little. She remained with her thoughts, unresponsive as she leaned her head against the window, her breath fogging up a circle against the glass. As she looked on through the window, she seemed suddenly distracted; her eyes were drawn to a light beam on the hill. A car had pulled up on the driveway of the white house that stood alone on the hill, surrounded by fields. From a distance, a man dressed in a suit could be seen entering that house. I saw Mamajee’s face turn as grey as the clouds above us as she stared on closely. Then I saw tears that fell like raindrops from her face, gliding down from the crevices of her nose and dropping from the angles of her chin. “Why are you crying, Mamajee?” I asked. I tried to swallow the buttered toast. I climbed up onto the windowsill to get a bet-ter view of what had saddened her. She took deep breaths that fogged the window, and I saw her hands tremble. “Because this is how it is written; everything is written this way. It was part of the grand plan. You, me, everything that has happened, everything that will happen, our entire existence, it is already written. We are only here to submit to Allah’s will. It is Allah’s wish, and we can’t change what Allah has written for us.” She seemed to tremble uncontrollably now, as if the words shook her to the core.

*

I have been looking back on that day for the last forty years of my life, reconciling how those very words have carved my existence page by page, chapter after chapter. How I had been lost in someone else’s story, someone else’s book, someone else’s dream and someone else’s life. I relive that day, yearning for the innocence of it, before life meddled with my view from that window and before it meddled with hers. Before, when it was simple, and all I knew was Mamajee, the house and the rolling hills. I look back on that day, rediscovering now what I already knew then, things you don’t need words for, or a pen to spell it out with. A child, which I was then, of four years only chooses to be loved; love in essence was happiness, and what made me happiest was to feel her love, feel it radiate like sunbeams farther than the hills. But something happened that day that changed all that. I have come to realise that while my dreams were to be loved and to please her, her dreams were far from where we stood; we may have shared the same view from that window, but that day was the first day I realised we certainly didn’t share the same perspective. I may have been four years old, but for the first time, some-thing that Mamajee said disagreed with me. You see, I wasn’t born for it all to be written for me. I was born to write it.  

About the author

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. view profile

Published on December 09, 2019

Published by

200000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Literary Fiction

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