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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.


A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi is the book I needed but didn’t know it. I was really feeling down and overwhelmed recently and so I decided that this book looked pretty short so let’s dive right in. I was hooked right away. I was unable to put it down. I enjoyed it so much.

This book was definitely important and I am so glad that it was written. I hear all the time that we need more diverse books but really the truth of the matter is, we need more books like this. This is what is wrong with the world. This is the book I would like to hand to people and say read this it will improve your life. The only other book like this that I felt this strongly about is The Symptoms of Being Human.

Shirin is a teenager trying to figure out high school after the events of 9/11. She is treated so differently by her teachers and her classmates. With all the hate and racism in the world, imagine what it was like right after 9/11. Shirin tries to channel her anger into break dancing with her big brother, writing, and music. Everything begins to change when she meets a boy named Ocean.

Ocean is really interested in Shirin, so he doesn't understand why she would be so stand offish. He doesn't understand why Shirin lets the culture gap become such an obstacle. Ocean is relentless and he is determined to get Shirin to let him in. Once she does let him in, he didn't realize how cruel the world around him could really be. People he thought were his friends and allies were no longer there for him

I think A Very Large Expanse of Sea is a fantastic novel. I really enjoyed these characters and their story. Mafi is such a brilliant writer. I just love everything she writes. I can't wait for more.

This was definitely a book that needed to be written. I think people forget that racism happens on all ends and all people are subject to bullying. It isn't fair to judge someone just because you don't understand them or their culture. Not everyone is the same so you shouldn't treat everyone the same. Maybe get to know someone before you start judging them.

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