Title: A Very Large Expanse of Sea
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Genre: Young Adult
Release Date: October 16, 2018
It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.
Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.
But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.
I liked this story.
I thought that 9/11 would play a bigger role in the story. The terrorist attack set the scene for the racism that Shirin experienced, but it wasn’t really part of the story.
I liked that being Muslim wasn’t the only part of Shirin that was prominent in the story. Though people around her only saw her hijab when they looked at her, she was just like any girl. She liked music and she fell in love. She fought with her brother and didn’t agree with her parents. These aspects of her personality are universal, and didn’t have anything to do with her being Muslim.
I loved the romance in the story. It was slow and apprehensive, but it was real. However, I didn’t like the ending. It was abrupt and it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. I still liked the rest of the story.
What to read next:
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Have you read A Very Large Expanse of Sea? What did you think of it?