Monday, October 15, 2018

Review: A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
A Very Large Expanse of Sea
by Tahereh Mafi
October 16, 2018
320 pages

Goodreads     Indigo

Goodreads Summary:
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 confess at first I wasn't sure A Very Large Expanse of Sea would be a book for me. It's not the type of book I would normally pick up but in the end I'm so glad I did. It's a story full of feels and ripe with meaning.

A Very Large Expanse of Sea was profound and 100% unforgettable. I felt a mixture of emotions while reading it. It was jaw-dropping to hear all the racist remarks and learn of all the awful things people did/do without consideration. I don't think I've ever wanted to punch someone (the bullies) as much as when I was reading this particular story.

I'm in awe of Shirin's strength. Despite how poorly people treated her she persevered. She may not have had the best attitude or the greatest reactions every time but she always held onto her sanity. No one could break her. Her energy was spent on what made her happy: music and break-dancing.

I really enjoyed Shirin's interaction with her brother (and his friends). Even though they've grown apart he doesn't fail to look out for her. At all the important moments he's there to give her advices and even cover for her. It's the most wonderful sibling dynamic. I can't really comment on the cultural accuracy but her parents seem to be portrayed in an authentic light too.

Shirin's relationship with Ocean was really beautiful. One of the best, most tortured romance I've read. She had on a hard shell but it was so sweet to see him slowly crack through it. I loved seeing the connection between Shirin and Ocean deepen. Their relationship was all at once intense and tender.

Tahereh Mafi does a wonderful job at bringing out Shirin's thoughts and addressing the issues at hand. For example, Shirin's physical appearance was a big topic of discussion in A Very Large Expanse of Sea. "I dressed the way I did not because I was trying to be a nun, but because it felt good- and because it made me feel less vulnerable in general, like I wore a kind of armor every day." (ARC, p. 49). We are all different people with different preferences/tastes. No one person should judge and make another feel less and/or uncomfortable with how they dress. "Different women felt comfortable in different outfits." (ARC, p. 49). Amen to that!

A Very Large Expanse of Sea is a must-read. It's a journey- delicate and tough, that every person should experience. I cannot stress how important and meaningful this book is. Read it. Please.
5 Cats
*I received an Advance Reading Copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and not affected in any way. All quotes were taken from the ARC I received.


  1. Wow, I'm blown away by your Review, because I was curious after reading the synopsis, but now I WANT TO read this so bad! Great review.

    1. Thank you!! It means so much to me to hear you say that. I hope you love this book as much as I did :)

  2. o0o so glad this one worked for you. I'll admit I'm too nervous to pick up another Mafi book after being burned by her first series but I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    Thanks for sharing,
    ~Brittany @ Brittany's Book Rambles

    1. Awww I haven't read her debut series yet but I know this one's quite different from it so I hope you give it a try! Always my pleasure to share <3


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