I picked up The Pact We Made after listening to an episode of The Reading Women podcast about cross-cultural dualities. I’m pretty sure it was Sumaiyya who recommended this book.
At the age of five, Mona, Zaina and Dahlia make a pact that they will all get married together at the age of 25.
At the age of 30, Mona and Zaina are married – one more happily than the other – and Dahlia is getting lots of pressure from her parents to join them. Marriage is the last thing on her mind though. Art and drawing are her passions, and ones which her parents see no value in. And although she is a 30 year old woman with a job and her own income, she still lives with her parents and is beholden to their wishes and expectations.
Dahlia is trapped in her current situation. She has no desire to marry – she is still haunted by the sexual abuse she suffered as a child. She is skilled at putting on the act of being a normal person – going to work, coming home, going to the gym. Her best friend – Yousef – is male, which means that Dahlia shouldn’t be seen with him alone in public. This attracts even more criticism from her parents. All she wants is to escape the life that she has, but she she is stuck like a fly in honey.
The Pact We Made is a heart wrenching gut punch of a book, which shows how trapped women can be in Kuwaiti culture, especially when they have a traumatic past, which must be hidden for the sake of the family’s ‘reputation’. I highly recommend this one.
(CW for sexual abuse, attempted suicide and suicidal ideation.)