(Review) A Very Large Expanse of Sea

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
Publication Date: October 16th, 2018
Pages: 320 (hardcover)
Genre: Young Adult 
My Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars

Goodreads 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 Review: I've never ready any of Tahereh's books before, and I grabbed this audio book on a whim because it just happened to be available on my library app. Honestly, I don't even remember people talking about this book when it came out but, WOW, they missing something amazing. 

I immediately loved every single one of these characters. Shirin is a complete badass, who seems like she has a chip on her shoulder and is absolutely allowed to. She deals with ridicule and racism on a daily basis simply because of who she is and what she chooses to wear. She doesn't give in to anyone's suggestions that she stop doing something that she does for herself and she doesn't take shit from anyone. 

So, when she meets Ocean she's definitely got her guard up. Ocean is precious. Literally precious. He is kind and smart and sweet. You can tell that he's head over heels for Shirin pretty much from the start, but she's always got her guard up. The progression of their relationship is one of the purest I've ever read. The friendship that grows into more is so, so beautiful. Now, I listened to this book and it's totally different from reading it, but I could feel the feels, man. 

When things turn to shit (because you know they do) I was truly in suspense. Even though this was a teen romance, I was worried. This book takes place post September 11th, and there are so many factors to could have an effect on the outcome for these characters. Honestly, I just fell in love with Ocean so much more in the last few minutes of this book. (So did Shirin, so it's okay.) 

Though this story takes place in 2002, it's definitely relevant to today and, you know, the future. It's beautiful. I wish more people knew about it. Spread the word, okay? Buy it, borrow it, read it. 

Oh, it's going to be a movie. 

Also, there's break dancing. 

Tahereh Mafi is a break dancer, BTW.