Book: A Very Large Expanse Of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
Published October 2018 by HarperTeen|320 pages
Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library
Genre: YA Contemporary
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 really liked this book! When I heard she was coming out with another book, I knew I had to read it, especially since her Shatter Me series is pretty awesome. I was curious to see what a YA contemporary written by Mafi would like, and it didn’t disappoint!
I really liked Shirin, and I thought she was a great character. I understood where she was coming from, and she was pretty guarded. I don’t blame her for being so guarded, and I probably would be too if I had to deal with everything she had to deal with. We feel her isolation and how different she feels, and we see how people make assumptions. I also don’t think I’ve seen a character who liked break-dancing, and it’s different in a good way.
I loved the relationship she had with her brother, and with the other guys in their break-dancing club. Shirin and her brother are very different people but I liked their bond. He’s a great character, and while we see him quite a bit, I wish we saw more of him. He’s definitely one of my favorite characters.
I think I would have been fine without the romance- it didn’t really do anything for me, especially since Shirin was dealing with people’s stereotypes and racism in a post-9/11 world while Ocean’s biggest concern was not wanting to be on the basketball team anymore. I get they have very different experiences and things going on in their lives, and I do appreciate that dating Shirin was eye-opening to what other people are going through, but I felt like they were at very different points.
And while I’m not a huge fan of love triangles, I think I might have been at least somewhat okay with it had it happened. But maybe not, considering I would have been fine without the romance. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, and wanting Shirin to be with anyone else. Yusuf had a lot of potential as a character (not just a love interest for Shirin), and I wish we saw more of him.
4 stars. I really liked A Very Large Expanse Of Sea, and this book is worth checking out, even if Shatter Me was not your thing. It’s beautiful and heart-breaking, and Shirin was amazing.