Tuesday, May 14, 2019

44. A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tehereh Mafi

Listened to audio on Chirp
read by Priya Ayyar
Unabridged audio (6:43)
2018 Harper Teen
310 pgs.
Finished 5/14/2019
Goodreads rating:4.30 - 13,629 ratings
My rating:  4.5
Setting:  2002 anywhere America

First line/s:  "We always seemed to be moving, always for the better, always to make our lives better, whatever."

My comments:  What an exceptionally written story!  Set about a year after 911, from the point of view of a 16-year-old Muslim American girl who has decided to wear a hijab, even though people's reactions are unbelievably cruel.  Shirin is the new girl in a new school, trying to be invisible, but with sassy responses whenever anyone gives her a hard time, which is frequent.  She doesn't take any shit from anyone.  Her only friends are the three guys who hang out with her older, senior-year brother, and who she joins in creating a break-dancing routine.  Then along comes a guy named Ocean.  And the story twists and turns from there.  Twists and turns in a very believable way.  Watching these two characters grow and change and really use the lessons their lives are throwing at them is a treat.  So well written!

Goodreads synopsis:  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.

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