Friday, October 19, 2018

Review: A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

Publication Date: October 16th 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genera: YA, Contemporary
Amazon ~ Goodreads ~ TBD

Synopsis: 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.

My Rating
5/5 stars

My Review

A Very Large Expanse of Sea is a breathtaking story about the post-9/11 life of a Muslim Hijabi teen.

Shirin wants nothing more than to be invisible and just get through high school as fast as possible. After the 9/11 attacks, Shirin has had a hard time opening up to her classmates. There is nothing that makes her feel more uncomfortable than the piercing stares and rude questions from her classmates, but what finally did the trick is when two boys attacked her after school and tried to strangle her with her hijab. Now Shirin tries to fade into the background and has put up massive walls around herself, because its better to keep everyone out than to go through that pain again. But when her biology lab partner is determined to learn more about her and actually takes a interest, Shirin can't help but open up a little, and once those walls come down, it is much harder to build them back up.

This story is so precious, I admire the author so much for writing this book because you can definitely tell it hit home for her, and you can see just how much of her soul she poured into this novel. Everything about this story seems so real, from the emotion, to the character development, and even the ending.

Shirin is a wonderful main character. In the beginning of the novel you can tell how hurt she was from her past experiences, but she still had so much strength and determination to be the person that she wanted to be. I loved her from the beginning because she didn't try to be the typical high school girl that dressed and acted like everyone else to try and be friends with everyone, Shirin decided to take her own path and didn't lose out on who she really was. As the story progresses, Shirin goes through tons of character changes, both emotional and physical. As she gets closer to Ocean, she opens up more and more, and even though her brain is telling her not to keep opening up to him, her heart is telling her that its time to let someone in and actually feel love once more. Any girl that has been hurt in the past can definitely relate to Shirin's feelings and how hard it is for her to open up to Ocean. At the same time, Shirin joins the breakdancing team with her brother and her brother's friends to take her mind away from the constant pain of high school and actually do what she loves. Throughout the story, we also get to watch her grow as a dancer, as she masters more moves and becomes more confident with dancing, and her physical appearance.

The pace of the story is absolutely perfect. The book is short enough to read in one or two sittings depending on how much time you have, but trust me when I say that you will not want to put the book down after starting it. I've been going through a bit of a reading slump, and was pleasantly surprised that I couldn't put this book down and ended up finishing it in a day, its just one of those books that's captivating and brings you joy when reading it, so it leaves you wanting more.

I just wanted to talk about the ending quickly. While I don't want to spoil the ending for anyone, I will say that its not your typical happily ever after ending, but this made me like the ending even more. The ending is incredibly realistic, as was the rest of the story, and it fits so perfectly that the character got a happy ending, but not a happily ever after ending, because those are so rare in life and I think books just use them way too much.

Overall, I absolutely loved this book from beginning to end. I loved the characters, the pace and the setting. Tahereh did such an amazing job with the writing, you can really feel the emotion and hard work she put into this novel. I will definitely be forcing my friends to read this novel. I finished it in one go because I could not put it down.

Happy Reading,


  1. I have this book on my radar so I'm glad I got to read your review. Definitely going on my wish list.

  2. Sounds like a really important read, I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

    Thanks for sharing,
    ~Brittany @ Brittany's Book Rambles

  3. Every aspect sounds so on point. I love the cover, too. Great review :)


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