Review of A Very Large Expanse of Sea, by Taherah Mafi

A Very Large Expanse of Sea

by Taherah Mafi
read by Priya Ayyar

HarperAudio, 2018. 6 hours and 43 minutes.
National Book Award Longlist.
Review written August 17, 2020, from a library eaudiobook

A Very Large Expanse of Sea is a book I didn’t get around to in 2018 mainly because it was obviously geared more for young adults than for children. This book is set in 2002 about Shirin, a Muslim girl who wears a headscarf, at yet another new high school for her Sophomore year. Her parents move the family often, always moving up to a better neighborhood. But it means that Shirin and her older brother have trouble making connections in high school. Or at least Shirin does.

Shirin is disgusted with humanity and the way she gets treated because of her scarf. She wants nothing more than to be invisible. She doesn’t look people in the eye. She listens to music under her scarf and gets away with it.

Then in her Biology class, she’s given a lab partner whose name is Ocean. Romantic sparks start up between them. But Shirin doesn’t think he realizes what he’s getting into, and it turns out she’s right. What she doesn’t realize is that he’s the school basketball star and the whole school is interested in whom he dates.

This is a romance about teens who face some formidable obstacles, and it includes characters who feel realistically flawed, but who will find their way into your heart.

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