A Very Large Expanse of Sea
A Very Large Expanse of Sea

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Annotation: A year after 9/11, Muslim teenager Shirin has completely withdrawn from social life, until she meets Ocean James in her biology class and is tempted to actually let her guard down.
Genre: Love stories
Catalog Number: #191609
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Publisher: HarperCollins
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2019
Pages: 310 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-06-286657-5 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-5921-0
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-06-286657-8 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-5921-2
Dewey: Fic
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Horn Book
Just after 9/11, Iranian American teen Shirin is jaded by the Islamophobic attitudes of classmates who see her as either "the Taliban" or "an exotic specimen." She copes by intimidating others with her acerbic wit and by stereotyping white Americans--until she falls for the star of the boys' basketball team. A quirky, broadly appealing romance that also explores white privilege, microaggressions, and the effects of stereotyping on young Muslim women.
Kirkus Reviews
After attending three different high schools, Shirin's used to finding her way in new places.Unlike her brother, Navid, she lies low, earbuds under her headscarf, ignoring all the racist comments thrown her way. Shirin doesn't take all the bull of her white classmates and their racist ignorance. But two things make this new school different: break-dancing and Ocean, the white lab partner who seems to see beyond Iranian-American Shirin's hijab. She can't get Ocean off her mind: Although he annoys her with his constant questions and texts, which keep eating at her data limit, Ocean forces her to open up. She even takes him out to watch break-dance tournaments, the one diverse place in her life where she doesn't feel alone in a crowd of whiteness. Shirin keeps waiting for Ocean to get bored or to realize that being with her could cost him his friends, his family, and potentially his basketball scholarship. But Ocean doesn't seem to care about other people—what they think, how they act, or what they believe. Even so, their relationship threatens to upend the cultural norms of American suburbia. This gripping political romance takes readers into the life of a young Muslim woman trying to navigate high school with the entire world attacking her right to her body and her faith. A moving coming-of-age narrative about the viciousness of Islamophobia and the unwavering power of love in post-9/11 America. (Fiction. 12-18)
Publishers Weekly
Hijabi Shirin, 16, starts at a new school in small-town America shortly after 9/11. She rages at those who assume that her religion and headscarf make her a terrorist, but instead of letting her anger -grip both sides of my mouth open and rip me in half,- she uses indifference as armor against the hostile stares of her peers. That is, until she meets Ocean James in her biology class. Against her better judgment, Shirin lets Ocean in and slowly begins to fall for him. But the new couple soon becomes targets of racism, xenophobia, and bigotry. Meanwhile, Shirin finds solace by starting a breakdancing crew with her brother and his friends. Mafi (the Shatter Me series) infuses a contemporary love story with a heartbreakingly realistic portrait of one post-9/11 Muslim life in the United States. Mafi openly addresses many common misconceptions about Islam and what it means to be a woman of color in the face of racism, showing how differences can be applauded, not feared. Ages 13-up. Agent: Jodi Reamer, Writers House. (Oct.) 
School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 9 Up-In the aftermath of 9/11, Shirin, a Muslim American teenager, bears the brunt of the country's anger on a daily basis. An intelligent, mature girl, Shirin has built up a tough armor from years of being bullied and misunderstood. Moving homes frequently because of her parents' continual desire to upgrade, she and her older brother are used to the ways their peers and teachers warily observe them. But now that the country is in panic mode and people see threats everywhere, Shirin, who has always chosen to wear a headscarf, is ostracized even more than usual at her newest high school. When a good-looking, white classmate, Ocean, starts to pay attention to her, Shirin cautiously dismisses him. Eventually, the two enter into a tentative relationship. No matter how much Shirin had anticipated the backlash, she is unprepared for the events that unfold when the community finds out about the two of them. It is not easy to incorporate important cultural themes in a young adult novel that also satisfies the social, romantic needs of teen readers. Not only does Mafi pull it off beautifully, but she exceeds expectations by delving deeply into characterization as well. Her writing is nuanced, smart, and lacks the sentimentality that often weighs down young adult books. Shirin and Ocean's interactions are palpable, and the discussions and exploration of what it means to be a Muslim in politically charged America will resonate with many teens and will be enlightening for some. VERDICT A must-have for all library collections. Karin Greenberg, Manhasset High School, Manhasset, NY
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
After attending three different high schools, Shirin's used to finding her way in new places.Unlike her brother, Navid, she lies low, earbuds under her headscarf, ignoring all the racist comments thrown her way. Shirin doesn't take all the bull of her white classmates and their racist ignorance. But two things make this new school different: break-dancing and Ocean, the white lab partner who seems to see beyond Iranian-American Shirin's hijab. She can't get Ocean off her mind: Although he annoys her with his constant questions and texts, which keep eating at her data limit, Ocean forces her to open up. She even takes him out to watch break-dance tournaments, the one diverse place in her life where she doesn't feel alone in a crowd of whiteness. Shirin keeps waiting for Ocean to get bored or to realize that being with her could cost him his friends, his family, and potentially his basketball scholarship. But Ocean doesn't seem to care about other people—what they think, how they act, or what they believe. Even so, their relationship threatens to upend the cultural norms of American suburbia. This gripping political romance takes readers into the life of a young Muslim woman trying to navigate high school with the entire world attacking her right to her body and her faith. A moving coming-of-age narrative about the viciousness of Islamophobia and the unwavering power of love in post-9/11 America. (Fiction. 12-18)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Mafi (Whichwood?, 2017) tackles the life of an American Muslim teenager in the wake of 9/11 in this visceral, honest novel. Jaded and cynical in the face of humanity's repeated cruelty at the sight of her hijab, Shirin only plans to get through high school as quickly as she can and let no one past her guarded exterior. It works until she meets Ocean James, who sees more than just her headscarf and is charmingly persistent about learning who she is, from her love of music to her burgeoning skills on the break dancing team her brother starts. But while Ocean's presence is a breath of fresh air, it also terrifies her: What happens when he gets past her walls? What happens when they shatter and she's left more vulnerable than ever before? Sympathetic Shirin's sharp, raw voice narrates the novel, and her captivating story opens a window onto a different narrative from the one typically dominating the airwaves after 9/11. As usual, Mafi excels at highlighting the relationships between her characters, whether it's the warm, supportive teasing between Shirin and her brother or the bittersweet agony of the deep connection between her and Ocean. Rich characters, incisive writing, and a powerful story will thrill readers beyond Mafi's already stalwart fans. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Mafi's best-selling fantasy series have garnered her legions of fans. Expect a big turnout for her first foray into realism.
Word Count: 66,104
Reading Level: 5.0
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.0 / points: 10.0 / quiz: 199230 / grade: Upper Grades
Guided Reading Level: Z

Longlisted for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature! From the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Shatter Me series comes a powerful, heartrending contemporary novel about fear, first love, and the devastating impact of prejudice. 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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