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A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi…

A Very Large Expanse of Sea (edition 2018)

by Tahereh Mafi (author) (Author)

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207885,141 (4.41)1
Title:A Very Large Expanse of Sea
Authors:Tahereh Mafi (author) (Author)
Info:Electric Monkey (2018)
Collections:To read

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A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi


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It's 2002, America is still reeling from the 9/11 attacks, & Shirin and her family,Iranian immigrants, move often; she's moved once again from California to a new town, new high school, new casual cruelty and misunderstanding. Shirin wears the hijab, not because her parents demand it, but for her own reasons- as a part of her religious identity. But an Iranian girl with a headscarf invites stares, taunts, even attacks - so Shirin disappears into herself, her music off her I pod, her journal, & break dancing with her older brother and his friends. And then Ocean James begins to try to chat w/her- he's her lab partner, and while Shirin struggles to keep up her aloof, cold demeanor, his genuine efforts to get to know her begin to break down her barriers. What follows is a growing romance story between a star jock, a handsome white boy and a beautiful Iranian girl - and what Shirin knows will surely come. "Ocean's presence doesn't make her life any less complicated, but he does begin to push her outside of her shell, and she not only broadens his horizons but likes him without the frills of his popularity. The stakes get higher, though, once she realizes just how popular he is, and how much backlash he's facing for supporting her. We all like a good forbidden romance — just ask Shakespeare — but in this case, Ocean and Shirin's relationship and the systematic way their peers and adults try to tear them apart is a brutal spectacle, compounded by the pressure Shirin faces to sacrifice her wants for what she's told are Ocean's best interests.

And it's hard to figure out Ocean's appeal at times. He appears to be an allegorical figure, a physical manifestation of humanity's light side whose goodness almost compensates for everyone else's myopia. (Naivete and unquestioning acceptance are virtues, for Ocean.) He's also unaware of the full power of his white privilege until he gets involved with Shirin and the realization of it fractures the bubble he's lived in his entire life. It often seems that they're separated by what feels like a large sea of cultural differences. But even as he's grappling with the horrors of privilege, he's still kind enough, respectful enough to temper her cynicism and help her become someone unafraid to dip a toe into untested waters — so to speak" (Kamrun Nesa "Prejudice Complicates the Course of Love..." NPR-Review. 20 Oct 2018.Online) Great first person narrative, esp for Muslim girls, or girls - fast read. Fans of The Fault in Our Stars, or other such stories (doomed, desperate first love) will embrace this story. Long-listed for Nobel Prize-Lit for YA ( )
  BDartnall | Apr 1, 2019 |
There is so much to love about this book. It has a lot going on and it works so well: The characters, the emotions, the xenophobia, the humanity, teen angst, bullying, young love, family pressure, finding yourself, oh and breakdancing. All of these things combine to make an enjoyable story of a 16 year old girl and her struggles navigating high school as a hijab-wearing Muslim a year after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. She’s built her defenses against the hatred and ignorance of fellow students and teachers so impenetrable that when a nice boy tries to befriend her, she can’t believe she can trust him and let him into her life.
The writing is very personal and the anger, sadness, ignorance and futility are so real. This book is endearing and heartbreaking. It’s a refreshing coming of age YA romance where the main characters are fully formed, diverse, intelligent, emotional, and empathetic. 5/5 stars ⭐️ ( )
  justjoshinreads | Mar 22, 2019 |

I bought this book when I attended the Ransom Riggs signing in Manchester with some friends, and I think their influence was definitely the main reason I bought it. If not, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up because of the focus on the romance; although I don’t hate books that make romance their main plot point, I think I began to find them boring because of their focus on heterosexual relationships, and even though there are a lot more LGBT books available now, I still struggle to pick up books focusing on M/F relationships.

That point leads directly into what I didn’t enjoy about the book. I liked reading about the romance between Shirin and Ocean to some extent, but at no point did I find myself getting emotionally invested in their relationship, and that made it somewhat of a struggle for me. Every part of the story that was supposed to be cute just felt cheesy. I feel like I should point out that this issue isn’ because of Mafi’s writing or the characters, more so a result of my personal preferences.

One of the things I did enjoy greatly about this book was reading about Shirin’s relationship with her brother. They had a great bond, and I liked how he got her into breakdancing, which is something they’d both had an interest in.

This was my first book by Tahereh, and a few people have mentioned that this was written differently to her others. That being said, I did like how this was written, I found it easy to read and I got through it pretty quickly. Shirin was likeable as a character, and although we have had nowhere near the same experiences I still felt I could sympathise with her. The other parts of the plot made this book exceptional enough that I would recommend this book to everyone, regardless of whether its what they usually read or not.

“I didn’t believe it was possible to hide a woman’s beauty. I thought women were gorgeous no matter what they wore, and I didn’t think they owed anyone an explanation for their sartorial choices. Different women felt comfortable in different outfits.
They were all beautiful.” ( )
  perksofbeingpeculiar | Jan 17, 2019 |
"A Very Large Expanse of Sea" dealt with some serious issues and gave an eye-opening account of one teenage, Muslim girl's struggles to be accepted at school post 9/11. I hated how Shirin was treated by her peers and sympathised with her pain and anger. Daily she had to endure racial slurs and derogatory comments.

Shirin was a funny, intelligent protagonist but, I felt at times, she handled situations too aggressively. However, I admired her strength and fierceness and the fact that she loved to break-dance, and her vulnerability was heartbreaking.

I also loved Ocean and his strength of character. He truly cared for Shirin and refused to be pushed away, regardless of how he was treated by the locals or how many times Shirin tried to end their relationship. It took him a while to realise the extent of the hatred poured out on Shirin because of her religion. Despite the sweet romance that blossomed between the two teens, I felt that it soon became the prime focus of the book which impacted on the big issues, which was disappointing.

My biggest complaint, however, was the overuse of the word 'wow'. I found it very annoying and wanted to give the author a thesaurus to help her choose other alternatives. However," A Very Large Expanse of Sea" was still an enjoyable read and a relevant one. ( )
  HeatherLINC | Jan 14, 2019 |
Mrs. Walker really liked the main character, Shirin.
  FinneytownSecondary | Jan 12, 2019 |
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A year after 9/11, Muslim teenager Shirin has completely withdrawn from social life, until she meets Ocean James in her biology class and is tempted to actually let her guard down.

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