What Do Arranged Marriages and American Author Holly Goddard Jones Have in Common?

By Soniah Kamal

Fiction writer Holly Goddard Jones is one of my favorite writers. Her short story collection ‘Girl Trouble’ is easily one of the best I’ve read. Holly has real knack for getting into the minds of the misfits be they a coach who has gotten a student pregnant or a adolescent boy who is going blind. Holly has a piece up at Salon ‘I was a Teenage Bride’ about getting married at age nineteen. Not only is the piece a fine example of how to tell a personal story using all the punches of fiction, but her story also reminded me of arranged marriages in Pakistan, that is early marriages which last for ever and have very happy endings. In America getting married at nineteen is unique enough for for Holly to have been asked ‘Were you pregnant?‘ and ‘Your parents must have been pissed?’ In Pakistan when a nineteen year old girl gets married she’s asked ‘When are you going to get pregnant?’ and ‘Your parents must be pleased.’ I know– the dichotomy is endlessly fascinating.

Holly was dating her husband so why do I consider her marriage an example of an arranged one? In order to respect her father’s sensibilities about her not ‘living in sin’ Holly married her boyfriend, a very Eastern ‘good girl’ thing to do! Obviously Holly did not give her Dad much girl trouble in this respect (pun absolutely intended)