A year after 9/11, 16-year-old Shirin is starting yet another first day of school at her third high school in two years, and she’s over it. Having grown used to the misconceptions, name-calling and outright racism hurled her way for wearing a hijab, Muslim-American Shirin has developed a tough exterior and an even tougher interior. The one place she feels comfortable is in the dance studio with her brother and his break-dancing team. When Shirin joins in and perfects her power moves like crab walks and head spins, she becomes someone else—someone who isn’t afraid of being hurt. But when Shirin is paired with Ocean James in biology class, he slowly begins to chip away at the walls Shirin has constructed.
Tahereh Mafi, best known for her Shatter Me series, has stepped away from fantasy to pen this incredibly realistic novel based on her own experiences. While immersing themselves in gorgeous prose, readers will feel for Shirin as she stands up for her beliefs in the midst of hurtful words and violence, and they’ll cheer as she experiences first love and laugh-out-loud moments. Intense, emotional and resonant, A Very Large Expanse of Sea is a riptide that pulls readers in.
This article was originally published in the October 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.