Friday, November 2, 2018

My Thoughts: A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38720939-a-very-large-expanse-of-sea
A Very Large Expanse of Sea
by Tahereh Mafi
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Publication Date: October 16th 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9780062866561
Genre: Young Adult | Contemporary
Source: Own

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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. (Goodreads)


I have read all of Tahereh Mafi’s books in the past, most of them the moment they were released, so of course I was super curious to check out A Very Large Expanse of Sea right away as well! Unlike Tahereh’s previous books, which are mostly fantasy and dystopian, A Very Large Expanse of Sea is a contemporary fiction novel. I think I was the most curious about this, because contemporary stories are my FAVORITE, and I couldn’t wait to get started on the very first one by her. The story did not disappoint.

With A Very Large Expanse of Sea, we get a small look into what life was like for a young Muslim girl, Shirin, a year after the attacks of 9/11. Looking back, I remember it to be quite an unsettling time for our country, but getting to read the story from the perspective of Shirin was an eye-opening experience. Reading about some of things she, and to other people of color, went through in the book were heartbreaking to read, and some parts, unfortunately, are still relevant today.

One thing I really enjoyed about this book were the characters. Shirin was such an interesting girl, and I didn’t really want her story to end once I finished the book. (I would also REALLY love to see her, her brother, and their friends break dance. It sounded awesome!) Ocean was quite an interesting character as well, and I enjoyed watching the relationship grow between he and Shirin.

Another thing that I really enjoyed about this book was the nostalgia! It brought back so many memories from that time period. For instance, I totally remember my first cell phone, and having to watch how many minutes I used, because unlimited was not a thing yet. And text messages were just becoming a thing at that time as well! Also, AOL Instant Messenger. I remember that was the best thing ever at the time!! Hah!

I also want to add that though I have a finished copy of this book, I opted to listen to the audiobook instead, mostly because I listened to a sample of the audiobook before I started the actual book, and I completely captivated by Priya Ayyar’s narration of the story. If you have the opportunity to check out this book in audio format, I highly recommend it.

Overall; I really, really enjoyed A Very Large Expanse of Sea, and I think Tahereh Mafi has another hit on her hands with this book! While parts of the book were heartbreaking to read, I loved the story, and the characters, and I am glad that these stories are being told, because, as I mentioned above, they are definitely eye-opening experiences. If you don’t already have this book on your TBR, definitely add it right away. I hope you enjoy the story as much as I did!!

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