A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Maf
From the New York Times bestselling author of the Shatter Me series comes a powerful, heartrending contemporary YA novel about fear, first love, and the devastating impact of prejudice
It’s 2002, a year after 9/11, and Shirin has just started at yet another new high school. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for 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.
Shirin 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 her. It terrifies her -they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds – and Shirin has had her guard up against the world for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.
Perfect for fans of the Shatter Me series as well as Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give and Nicola Yoon’s The Sun is Also A Star.
Review by Kelly Lacey
I read this after seeing bookstagrammer Jacquie over at A Lifetime of Pages review it on a reading binge weekend. Jacque’s reaction to the book was so strong and without giving any spoilers she encouraged everyone to read the book.
Well, I am so pleased I listened, I am a better person for reading the book. A very Large Expanse of Sea puts you in the shoes of Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl. Who is starting another new high school a year after 9/11. Shirin wears hijab because it is a comfort to her and it is something she can control.
But as she tries and fails to become invisible amongst her peers life for Shirin is a nightmare. Being called a terrorist on a daily basis, the looks and stares. Being told to go back to where she belongs. She shrinks herself and avoids eye contact or interactions with others. Then one day she meet Ocean…….
Stepping into Shirin’s shoes was deeply terrifying and eye opening. It really does make you reflect inwards to how you treat people and more importantly how you make them feel. I live near the big city of Edinburgh, Scotland’s beautiful capital. Its diverse with lots of people of different nationalities. These days people don’t make a lot of eye contact. Edinburgh people are a friendly bunch for the most part. This books makes me want to be a better a human and not to judge.
It’s deeply moving and extremely important for everyone today. It’s sad that in 2019 there is still racial bigotry. Everything that people fought for and died for over the years doesn’t seem to have had the effect it should of done.
This is the book that should be on the educational curriculum.
A heart wrenching read that will leave you haunted and with the aim to do and a better person.
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