A Very Large Expanse of Sea | Book Review


Hi everyone, it’s Farah and welcome to my
channel thefarahproject. Today, I’m going to be sharing a book review
on the book A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi. I read this this month, and I actually flew
through it in a few hours, in one sitting, and it was incredible. This is, I believe, Tahereh Mafi’s first for
a/into YA contemporary. Typically she writes fantasy YA, and I read
the Shatter Me trilogy by her, I haven’t read the rest of the books in the series so it’s
only been the trilogy for me and I quite enjoyed that. It’s gotta a very flowery prosey feel to it. This one isn’t quite the same, and I actually
think I liked it more? According to Tahereh Mafi, this is actually
a semi-autobiographical account of her high school years in the wake of 9/11 and what
it was like to live as a Muslim-Hijabi girl in the States at the time and this follows
a young teenager, Shireen, who is also a Muslim, and she wears the Hijab and this takes place
a year after the events of 9/11, and she’s moving into a new school, a new high school,
and she already has her walls up because she’s been burned before and then she makes friends
with this dude called Ocean – a strange name – and they form some sort of tentative relationship? At the same time, her brother starts a breakdancing
crew and that sorts of starts to give her a purpose in life and all in all this is a
general plot of the story. Heavily inspired by Tahereh Mafi’s own experiences
in high school and I actually really, really enjoyed it because I think this is the first
time I ever read about a Muslim, female, Hijabi protaganist. Ever. In a YA story. Ever actually in any story. So this acutally holds a really special place
in my heart because, you guys, this is actually really, really relatable. I know some people who will read this will
think it’s too out there, too extreme in the sense that “no way all of these things happened,”
or “no way people are that cruel.” But you guys, it happens. I’ve heard the stories. Even though I’ve never actually lived in the
States as a Hijabi, I visited western countries and felt what she felt. I feel the fear that people are going to lash
out at me for crimes that were committed by someone else and I fear that I will encounter
racism and bigotry and all of that and she does so…it really– it really hit home. I loved that there was a romance in this. I really appreciated that she wasn’t spiking
spam Muslim girl, perfect in every way, a saint because she cussed a lot, she falls
in love. It was relatable. It was real. It wasn’t this sort of like, “ok, I’m gonna
write about a Muslim girl, and I’m gonna make her perfect because I’m trying to send out
a message.” No. And it’s brought up in the story as well. This whole double standard like, “oh! You’re wearing the Hijab, so you’re supposed
to be perfect”. Not really, not particularly and so I loved
that message that was brought across in the story, but I also find other aspects relatable. Her conflict with her identity and her religion
and doing the day to day things but also keeping things in the back of her head about how she’s
supposed to act and I loved the family dynamic. I could relate to that because I felt like
her family was like my family, like typical Arab-Muslim family – in this case, she was
Persian – and it was just really fun to read those parts, and her relationship with her
brother was really great. At the same time, as I said, you’ve got this
love story in the core of it where you meet Ocean and Ocean is this guy that she’s partnered
up within biology and they start a tentative relationship, in which he just wants to understand
her, get to know her, learn more about her culture and religion and things start to develop
from there and so she’s warring within herself on whether she should trust him or not and
it really says a lot about her character at this point…and…it was actually really,
really nice. I really liked the romance aspect of it. I will say one thing about Ocean though. Is that he just seemed a little too good to
be true. He goes through his own conflicts throughout
the story, but he just seemed like a really great guy. Like really, really nice. He’s handsome, athletic, smart, intelligent,
he just had it all going for him, but also he was so nice and so understanding. I wanted to see more of a flaw in him because
we see a lot of it in Shireen as a character. We see a lot of flaws in her. She’s super flawed in fact, and that’s why
she’s such a beautiful, realistic, relatable character but him, on the other hand, I didn’t
believe quite as much cuz I’m like, ” that’s really sweet, and I like what’s going on here
but he’s just so great…like he’s too understanding, he’s too nice…maybe…” Another thing that niggled at me a little
bit is the ending, and I felt, we’re going through all of this conflict and yes/no/maybe
and in the end, it just ends? You didn’t get the closure that you wanted. I wanted a little bit more, a little bit more
on the characters, on the resolution, on the closure aspect of it. I just felt like it ended a little abruptly
so…the ending for me was a little too quick, and Ocean’s character was a little too hard
to believe but all in all I think she tackled the topic of being a Muslim in America – and
a Hijabi and a girl – during those times very, very well. She also captured the times very well. What it was like being a teenager back in
the early 2000s. I really, really loved those aspects and then
she got the relationships between the family very well, her mom and dad were really interesting
to read about. I really, really wanted to read more on them. I wanted to maybe get more conversations between
those characters, between her parents and herself. All in all, it’s a really great book, and
it’s become one of my favorites because it’s one of the first books I read about a Hijabi-Muslim
girl and so it will always hold a really, really warm place in my heart. I thought Tahereh Mafi did such a great job. I flew through this, it’s a really, really
quick read and I loved it. It was a lot of fun. I had some issues, but it was a lot of fun. It was a solid 4 stars for me. If you guys have read this book, let me know
what you think down below. If you haven’t, give it a go. It’s a really quick read and thank you so
much for watching. I hope you guys enjoyed this book review and
I will see you with my next one. Bye!

30 thoughts on “A Very Large Expanse of Sea | Book Review

  1. I want to read this one!! It sounds really interesting. All the reviews that I’ve seen on it have been generally positive and it has all 5 star reviews on amazon.

  2. ERMERGRSH I love this book 😍😍😍. Was by far my fave of 2018. I Agree with you that the characters (except for Shirin) could have used some work. I was particularly interested in Amna, the other Muslim girl at the school. She went from zero to a hundred in no time and it would have been cool to see a longer snapshot of her relationship with Shirin.

  3. Okay I’m totally going to read this. I love that u pushed back against the idea that a complex Muslim character isn’t possible – As a hip hop dancer, I can happily say the story isn’t far fetched!!Al Ta’wam are two Muslim twins who are some of the most talented and celebrated hip hop artists in my city! They are phenomenal dancers!

  4. Novels like the people who write 'em ain't perfect. Sometimes an author doesn't hit full stride until they have a half a dozen novels written, & that has happened even to big name authors like Dickens & Hardy.
    Acc. to a social media quantifying site, the 30-some booktubers found on my site (playlist booktube in flu encers) have the most influence on utube in terms of views & "other things." If you care to look, tell me whether u think it's a reasonable group or a bunch of claptrap.
    '19 will see u pass 10K subs. More will jump aboard tfp bandwagon. Fun times!

  5. I really enjoy how excited and upbeat you are in your book review videos. I wish I had time to read fiction novels, but all of my free time is devoted to reading non-fiction for school.

  6. I loved this one, too! I listened to the audiobook and it's great in that format, too. I was at a college with a heavy muslim population when 9/11 happened and none of what she experienced really surprised me, but I feel like I should have expected more of the teachers at least!

  7. Will definitely have to pick this up soon! I am white and know I absolutely I can’t speak for the experience of growing up Muslim in the states, but my best friend 6th grade through high school was a hijabi Muslim girl and watching her deal with comments while new to our elementary school, watching her navigating love, art, faith, extremely conservative parents and uninformed schoolmates, none of whom understood her well, was hard to witness at times. People are mostly scared and hateful towards types of people they haven’t known or known well enough, so I’m very glad that there are books with diverse and realistic hijabi Muslim protagonists coming out 😊

  8. I loved this too! I guess what I liked about it is that she wasn't trying to "represent" anyone, but rather just tell the story of this particular girl. I also loved the rambley writing style. Great review!

  9. There was something bothering me about Ocean and I couldn't put my finger on it until you put words on it. He was like a blank canvas, a bit too squeaky clean too feel real. I loved Navid and the devotion the siblings had for one another. That was beautiful!
    All in all I LOVED it, read it in one sitting, it was so good and really cool to get a Muslim girl, even if I'm not Hijabi I could relate to her so much!

  10. I flew through this book!! The story kept me engrossed till the end and I really hope that Tahereh Mafi writes more contemporary stories!!

  11. Before reading A Very Large Expanse of Sea I didn’t understand when people said they feel underrepresented in literature. I didn’t mind it because I loved reading about diverse characters who are different from me. Then I read A Very Large Expanse is Sea and now it’s one of my favourites because it’s the book that I needed. Even if some things might have bothered me in the book, for the first time it’s a book that I fully related to.
    As a hijabi living in the West, I can see that this book does represent life today. People might not throw at me stuff at school but still the feelings and the anger is the same; people still hate you or fear you and I can’t thank Taherah enough for writing this book.

  12. Love your Review a looot
    Agree with everything 🌟
    I really enjoyed the rep like so much I’m not used to seeing Muslim rep like anywhere here in Germany so when I heard Mafi was writing this autiobuy!!

  13. Aaaaah! I just finished this book not long ago and am about to upload a reading vlog about my experience and wanted to see what others had to say about it before doing so. I'm soooo glad to have found this video, as I didn't know there were other arab muslims in the booktube community!! I agree with pretty much everything you said in here! I subscribed so quick, can't wait to go binge your videos lol, keep it up! 💕

  14. I really liked the ending because I felt it added to the realism of the story, the fact that it wasn’t like “happily ever after” but rather a continuation of how real her seemed.
    Great review!

  15. you should read love from A to Z by SK Ali.it's a love story between two muslim characters.it's really good.

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