Longlisted for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature!
From the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Shatter Me series comes a powerful, heartrending contemporary novel about fear, first love, and the devastating impact of prejudice.
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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
It’s hard enough just to be in high school, never mind being a Persian American, hijab-wearing teenage girl in a small-minded community post-9/11. Throw in a budding romance with the school’s all-American basketball star and things get even hairier. Shatter Me author Tahereh Mafi meets racial hatred’s gaze head-on while charting the halting, awkward progress of the relationship between Shirin and Ocean James. Her emotionally intense story blends clear-eyed realism and tender poignancy, capturing young love in all its delicious difficulty and emotional whirlpools.
Hijabi Shirin, 16, starts at a new school in small-town America shortly after 9/11. She rages at those who assume that her religion and headscarf make her a terrorist, but instead of letting her anger "grip both sides of my mouth open and rip me in half," she uses indifference as armor against the hostile stares of her peers. That is, until she meets Ocean James in her biology class. Against her better judgment, Shirin lets Ocean in and slowly begins to fall for him. But the new couple soon becomes targets of racism, xenophobia, and bigotry. Meanwhile, Shirin finds solace by starting a breakdancing crew with her brother and his friends. Mafi (the Shatter Me series) infuses a contemporary love story with a heartbreakingly realistic portrait of one post-9/11 Muslim life in the United States. Mafi openly addresses many common misconceptions about Islam and what it means to be a woman of color in the face of racism, showing how differences can be applauded, not feared. Ages 13 up.)
This book is SO GOOD! It’s been a while since I’ve read a book that made me feel as intense emotions as this book did. I loved that there was not only a journey through love, but also her journey through racism and discrimination. Super well written and so powerful, definitely recommend!!
I absolutely loved this book! I’ve shed so many tears reading this book it was absolutely beautiful. The character growth of Shirin throughout the book was so inspirational!
A very important novel
This might be the best YA book I’ve ever read. I’ve noticed that Mafi’s strongest suit is writing characters. She shows this strength in this book in particular; I don’t think these characters would leave me anytime soon.
The book tackles serious subjects such as islamophobia and racism and handles them well. The story was really touching and really hits home.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and recommend everyone to read it. ‘A Very Large Expanse of Sea’ is SUCH an important book, especially in today’s political climate.