A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi is a unique book in that it is from the point of view of a high school-age Muslim-American girl in 2002 when tensions were high in the new post-9/11 America.
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.
This book surprised me. It started slow, and the issues discussed aren’t new. However, as the book went on I realized that these are still problems that many people face today – not just Muslims – and the book was so much more timely than I thought. Overall good writing and a good story.