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A Very Large Expanse of Sea

Shirin is a Muslim-American  teenager living in a world that causes her pain and sorrow just for being who she is. Our world. The year is 2002, and Shirin is ready to start her sophomore year in her third high school. Life has proven her time after time that not only are people cruel and racist, but she can do nothing about it other than ignore them. She realizes that the best option is to build a wall to protect her heart. But all that she’s worked for is in danger when she meets Ocean James. Now, Shirin must ask herself, is it time to lower the wall protecting her emotions and keeping everyone out?
 
This book is powerful.
 
It is raw and it hurts to realize the truths in it.  Because of the hijab that Shirin wears, she is treated either as if she wasn’t a human or as if she didn’t exist. This book brings attention to an important issue in our society today, even though the story is set in 2002. Tahereh Mafi’s book can be shamelessly called the next big thing. However, it would be a mistake to say that this book is solely about bullying or racism, because it is so much more.  
 
This book is mesmerizing.
 
While it is true that Shirin faces these problems, she is also a teenager going through high school, following her dreams, and opening up to the possibility of love. In addition to all of this, Shirin finally has a chance to follow her dream; to breakdance. It is very nice to have this element of the story to be kept constant from beginning to end. From the very first page, one gets the feeling that this is a very authentic book. Tahereh Mafi does an outstanding  job at capturing the essence of what high school is really like. It’s the little details that make a huge differences in the reader’s experience. Not only that, but, at the end of the story, the reader feels like they know Shirin.
This book is a must-read.
 
Rating: 5/5

Review by Sofia S.
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