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Featured on BBC Radio 4’s Open Book • Featured on BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking • An ELLE Magazine cultural pick • Reviewed in the Observer ‘Beautifully written’ Joanna Cannon
‘Fascinating … full of personality’ Guardian
‘Brilliant … What a debut’ Pandora Sykes
‘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.
‘So beautifully written and so important, and so cleverly crafted, it can't be a debut. But it is’ Joanna Cannon
‘[A] fascinating glimpse into the complex and contradictory life of a modern Kuwaiti woman… full of personality and touches of humour’ Guardian
‘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
‘Brilliant book about the pressures of being a 30 year old unmarried woman in Kuwait – the struggle for modernity amidst patriarchal tradition – and the cultural failure to acknowledge trauma. What a debut’ Pandora Sykes
‘Set in contemporary Kuwait, AlAmmar asks us to reimagine the lives of modern Muslims as they struggle to reconcile the freedom of choice with the customs of their faith’ BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking
‘[A] fascinating debut … nuanced and understanding’ Observer
‘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
‘The Pact We Made deals with one woman’s search for independence’ ELLE
About the author
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.