Thursday, August 22, 2019

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

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.

(Synopsis from Goodreads). 

My Thoughts:
I love Tahereh Mafi's Shatter Me series. It was one of the first young adult audiobooks I ever listened to. I ended up listening to the whole thing in one day because I needed so badly to know what happened next. When I heard that Tahereh Mafi was releasing a contemporary book, I was excited, yet skeptical at the same time. I'm not usually a big fan of contemporaries, so I wasn't sure if I'd like it. Turns out, I had nothing to worry about. I loved A Very Large Expanse of Sea.

I think A Very Large Expanse of Sea is a book that's desperately needed with everything currently going on in United States, and throughout the world. It was one of the most thought provoking, ee opening books I've ever read. It teaches knowledge and understanding of a culture that can only be gained through first hand experience of that culture. I think that if more people read this book there would be a lot less hate of the Muslim culture, and a lot more love, understanding, and acceptance. It was absolutely heartbreaking to read about the things that Shirin went through. Even though the book is set in 2001, the things that happen to her are still relevant, and still happen to Muslim women all across the United States today.

There was something that was unexpected for me in A Very Large Expanse of Sea that I absolutely loved. I should have known it would happen with the year it was set in, but I loved all of the early 2000s references. This brought brought back so many feelings of nostalgia from growing up in that era. Hearing about the music from that time, and the electronics brought a huge smile to my face. I kind of forgot about text messages being expensive with the way things used to be back then because we take it for granted now. It's always interesting to see how much our society is progressed technologically looking back on it.

A Very Large Expanse of Sea is definitely in my top three books that I've read this year. I couldn't find one single fault in it. It was a beautiful, heartbreaking, own voices book. I have a feeling that it's one of those books that will stick with me for years to come. I really wish it would be put on required reading lists in high schools. Maybe if it was, the world would have a little less hate, and a little more love. 

I give A Very Large Expanse of Sea: 5/5.

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I received this book from the publisher, via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.


  1. Hmmm. Now that you've mentioned how important this book is considering the current climate in the US, I definitely want to read this now.