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The Pact We Made

by Layla AlAmmar

Books with reviews by our Reader Review Panel Family Drama Modern and Classic Literary Fiction Relationship Stories

LoveReading View on The Pact We Made

As eight-year-old girls, three friends made a marriage pact. Now approaching thirty, Dahlia is the only one who remains unmarried and the pressure to conform, to accept a husband, is crippling. Dahlia is desperate to be “unfettered by customs and bonds and the burden of ancestry”, and it’s clear to her that life is much easier for young boys who “would have freedoms my sister and I never contemplated...the freedom to live their lives without constant scrutiny...the freedom to not marry without shame or guilt.” While Dahlia has conformed to her parents’ idea of a suitable career, she remains steadfast in her refusal to marry a man she does not love, and still harbours a desire to pursue her artistic talents, while battling familial and peer pressure, while haunted by the abuse inflicted on her by a family friend.

Dahlia’s intimate, introspective narrative evokes a sense of constriction and conflict with remarkable potency, and readers will applaud her courage and acts of defiance. Thought-provoking, long-lingering and simmering with the strength of the human spirit, this is a powerfully assured debut.

Joanne Owen

The Pact We Made Synopsis

 What if you had to choose between your family and your freedom?.

`How could I explain to her that nothing in my life felt real? That in a country like Kuwait, where everyone knew everything about each other, the most monumental thing to ever happen to me was buried and covered over? For the sake of my reputation, my future, my sister's and cousins; the family honor sat on my little shoulders, so no-one could ever know.'

Dahlia has two lives. In one, she is a young woman with a good job, great friends and a busy social life. In the other, she is an unmarried daughter living at home, struggling with a burgeoning anxiety disorder and a deeply buried secret: a violent betrayal too shameful to speak of. With her thirtieth birthday fast-approaching, pressure from her mother to accept a marriage proposal begins to strain the family. As her two lives start to collide and fracture, all Dahlia can think of is escape: something that seems impossible when she can't even leave the country without her father's consent. But what if Dahlia does have a choice? What if all she needs is the courage to make it?

Set in contemporary Kuwait, The Pact We Made is a deeply affecting and timely debut about family, secrets and one woman's search for a different life.

The Pact We Made Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

A superb modern day story that is sure to please the reader. Full review

Catherine Bryce

A really memorable story, set in an interesting environment, with serious issues at its heart. Full review

Doreen McKeown

A terrific story with a strong 30 something female character living in Kuwait with her family who despairs for her future. Full review

Edel Waugh

An eye opening view on the struggles of a Kuwaiti woman destined for marriage. Full review

Heather Byrne

A struggle for independence pitted against society, this novel evokes an often oppressive atmosphere that is unforgettable. Full review

Tina Tse

A real insight into the struggles and challenges of young women living in Kuwait today. Full review

Emma Barton

A compelling and topical read detailing the struggle of minority groups, resulting in a real tour de force. Full review

Peter Mynehan

The pact we made is as story of an almost 30 year old woman Dahlia who is stuck between two worlds, that of being a married woman and doing what is expected of her in the society she lives in and the world she wishes she could be in, free from expectation and the pressures that her culture places on her an unmarried woman. Full review


Thought provoking and fascinating, this story describes Dahlia’s life as an unmarried woman in Kuwait. It is well worth reading. Full review

Susan Wallace

An interesting read about a young woman growing up in Kuwait - a mix of cultures. Full review

Alison Bisping

Layla Alammar provides an insightful look into a different culture where being single at 30 is frowned upon and the pressure from family to settle down is overwhelming... a great debut novel. Full review

Lucy Hall

The Pact We Made Press Reviews

`So beautifully written and so important, and so cleverly crafted, it can't be a debut. But it is' Joanna Cannon

`A Kuwaiti #MeToo novel of muffled suffering and a bid for freedom- absorbing, brave and compelling' Leila Aboulela

`Truthful and courageous, radical and lyrical. I loved it' Hanan Al-Shaykh

`One of those books you ration so it doesn't end too soon, it's beautifully written and unbelievably powerful. I loved it' Katie Lowe, author of The Furies

`A timely and deeply affecting debut with a voice that needs to be heard, at a time when it matters most' Charlotte Philby, author of The Most Difficult Thing

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9780008284442
Publication date: 07/03/2019
Publisher: The Borough Press an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9780008284442
Publication date: 7th March 2019
Author: Layla AlAmmar
Publisher: The Borough Press an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 288 pages
Genres: Reader Reviewed Books, Family Drama, Literary Fiction, Relationship Stories,
Categories: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),

About Layla AlAmmar

Layla AlAmmar grew up in Kuwait, with an American mother and a Kuwaiti father. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh. Her work has appreaed in the Evening Standard, Quail Bell Magazine and Aesthetica Magazine, where she was a finalist for the Creative Writing Award 2015. She currently lives in Kuwait. The Pact We Made is her debut novel.

More About Layla AlAmmar

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