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.
That’s a word that’s used a lot in this book.
But it is just… wow.
This books reads like a diary, in the best possible way. It feels personal and true and heartbreakingly beautiful in a way that I’ve never experienced before. I flew through this. The words flow and ebb and create this picture that makes the story simply implant it’s self in your brain.
This is said to be the most autobiographical book Tahereh Mafi has ever written and it shows. In a good way! It feels like a personal recollection of events put together to form a story. It’s different, but intriguing.
I loved Shirin. I loved how she took absolutely no crap from anybody. It hurt to see her go through what she did. It hurt to see her experience all the racism and bigotry the world has to offer. She’s a teen. She just wants to live her life and it is the biggest, suckiest thing that her and anybody else who isn’t the “norm” can’t do that without unwanted comments or stares.
I really liked the breakdancing portion of this story. I know absolutely nothing about and I really loved watching Shirin learn more and more about it!
I don’t know how I feel about the romance. I liked Ocean; he was cool. I don’t I ever developed strong feelings either way about their relationship. Shirin cared about him deeply and Ocean cared deeply about her.
I can’t wait for A Very Large Expanse of Sea to come out so everybody can read it. It’s an extremely important book and I’m so looking forward to seeing it on shelves.
Here is a pre-order link if you are so inclined!
Thank you for reading!