Mundie Moms

Friday, December 14, 2018

A VERY LARGE EXPANSE OF SEA by Tahereh Mafi / Book Review #AVeryLargeExpanseOfSea

By: Tahereh Mafi
Published by: Harper Teen
Released on: October 16th, 2018
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Source: Borrowed book 

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.

This is one of those tough, yet realistic reads that gives readers perspective. Mafi's story is a portrayal of what it was like for a 16 yrs Muslim girl in post 9-11 era in the USA. It not only offers what it was like for Shirin, but what I imagine is like for many hijab wearing Muslims like her. This story also gives it's readers a glimpse about what happens when we all have more understanding, and less judgments. While I didn't connect with Shirin, I understood where her anger came from. It made me mad reading what kinds of things she endured. 

I appreciated the differences in perspectives with Ocean, and Shirin's brother, and his crew in this story along with Shirin's. I loved Shirin and her relationship with her brother. Her brother definitely brought the humor to the book. They are the perfect ying and yang. I enjoyed the breaking dancing element to this story with Shirin and her brother. While I really liked Ocean, I did have an issue with the insta-love and all the angst that he and Shirin had for being together for such a short amount of time. 

Mafi's writing is a honest, thought provoking, raw portrayal of what Shirin was going through. This story comes across as a very personal one for Mafi (she's talked about it on her social media accounts). I couldn't help but feeling that with the sometimes choppy plot, that it actually mirrored real life and the complexity that it is, and the sudden turn of events or feelings about we sometimes have towards something. That choppiness felt like it was tied to all Shirin deals with and goes through, through out the book. It was almost written like we were getting a glimpse into her mind, and feeling the struggle she had with feeling one way, while realizing something else entirely that forced her to have these sudden changes. I liked that about the book. 

This book is a powerful read. It is one that will definitely make you think. It wasn't hard to be caught up in the emotional aspect of the story. The one thing I didn't like about the book, was the excessive language in it. Aside from that, this book reminded me a lot of a few other YA books that aren't afraid to tackle real issues, and make you think about not only the these things from the character's point of view, but it also makes you ponder that 'what would you do'. 

If you like The Hate U Give, I'd recommend picking up this book, and vis versa.