Review: A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication: October 16th 2018 by HarperTeen
Format: ARC

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.


I’m blown away once again by Tahereh Mafi’s words. A VERY LARGE EXPANSE OF SEA is moving, emotional, romantic, and enlightening. Everyone needs to read this book.

This novel is about Shirin, who moves to a new school, and meets a boy named Ocean, who shows interest in her and her life. It’s a romance story, but it’s also a story about learning to love and an eye-opening piece about racism, microaggressions, and feminism. So many of the incidents that happen in this book made me so angry, and I’m just really happy that Tahereh wrote this piece – it’s really relevant to today’s issues in terms of racism and Islamophobia.

Shirin is an amazing character. She’s defiant and funny, beautiful and creative, and she and Ocean make an a lovely couple. the more description I got from Shirin, the more I was thinking “This is so much like Tahereh.” Shirin is so unique and fierce, and I also loved her relationships with her family. The romance is slow-burning and genuine, and the ending is so bittersweet – it broke my heart, but this book as a whole also put it back together.

Overall, A VERY LARGE EXPANSE OF SEA left me breathless and in awe of the power of Tahereh’s words. It’s a hard-hitting and honest, yet passionate and beautiful. This book needs to be in your hands as soon as possible.


alice name.pngAlice is an 19 year old college student who loves the oxford comma, television shows, and the company of dogs. She finds writing in the third person odd yet enjoyable. You can find her scrolling through Twitter, Instagram, and forever organizing her shelves on Goodreads.


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