Posted in book reviews

A Very Large Expanse of Sea (SAMPLER) – Tahereh Mafi

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 just read a sampler of this, provided to me by NetGalley, and I can’t wait for this book to be published so I can continue reading. Already I am captured by the story and the characters, and can’t wait to see where it goes and the emotions it explores on what it’s like to be a Muslim post 9/11, something I don’t know much about. I’m really liking the writing style, so will definitely be picking this one up when it’s published.

I think there’s already something very raw and authentic about this, with it being an own voices novel, and I hope this tone/theme of truthfulness and not holding back continues throughout the whole novel. From the first few chapters, it’s a heavy presence, but not too much in a heavy handed way that you feel like you’re being lectured to – it’s just there, and it’s a part of this characters experience and her story, and I’m interested to see how this folds itself in to a plot and how that develops.