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A Very Large Expanse of Sea Paperback – 18 Oct 2018
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This is a gorgeous book. It's tender and fierce, beautiful even as it depicts some ugly truths. The prose is passionate and honest, unsentimental and big-hearted. The very best books move you to reconsider the world around you and this is one of those. I truly loved it. (Nicola Yoon, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything and The Sun is Also a Star)
A raw yet astoundingly elegant examination of identity, loneliness and family that is unflinching in its honesty and power. Tahereh Mafi holds nothing back - and the reader is better for it. (Sabaa Tahir, New York Times bestselling author of the Ember in the Ashes series)
I started reading A Very Large Expanse of Sea on a plane and couldn't put it down until I'd finished the entire thing. Tahereh Mafi's beautiful story touched my heart and taught me so much, I cannot wait for the world to read!! (Tomi Adeyemi, bestselling author of The Children of Blood and Bone)
A Very Large Expanse of Sea reads like a beautiful heart - one that shines and aches and yearns, and above all else, one that loves fiercely against all odds. Years from now, you will remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when you experienced this. A transcendent story about truth, love and finding joy. (Marie Lu, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Warcross series)
Insightful (Sunday Independent, Ireland)
A heartbreaking stunning novel (Pop Sugar)
I started reading A Very Large Expanse of Sea on a plane and couldn't put it down until I'd finished the entire thing. Tahereh Mafi's beautiful story touched my heart and taught me so much, I cannot wait for the world to read!! (- Tomi Adeyemi, bestselling author of The Children of Blood and Bone)
I can't wait to read Tahereh Mafi's first contemporary novel A Very Large Expanse of Sea Love the first line so so so so much. (Adam Silvera, bestselling author of History Is All You Left Me)
Tahereh Mafi's bold, inventive prose crackles with raw emotion. A thrilling, high-stakes saga of self-discovery and forbidden love, the Shatter Me series is a must-read for fans of dystopian young adult literature - or any literature! (Ransom Riggs, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children)
"Dangerous, sexy, romantic, and intense. I dare you to stop reading." (- Kami Garcia, #1 New York Times bestselling co-author of Beautiful Creatures on the SHATTER ME series)
From the Inside Flap
This is a gorgeous book. It's tender and fierce, beautiful even as it depicts some ugly truths. The prose is passionate and honest, unsentimental and big-hearted. The very best books move you to reconsider the world around you and this is one of those. I truly loved it' - Nicola Yoon, bestselling author of Everything, Everything From the New York Times bestselling author of the Shatter Me series comes a powerful, heartrending contemporary YA novel about fear, first love, and the devastating impact of prejudice It’s 2002, a year after 9/11, and Shirin has just started at yet another new high school. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for 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. Shirin 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 her. It terrifies her -they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds - and Shirin has had her guard up against the world for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down. Perfect for fans of the Shatter Me series as well as Angie Thomas's The Hate U Give and Nicola Yoon's The Sun is Also A Star.See all Product description
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I loved the writing style and the romance and everything was so smoothly done! Definitely one of my faves of all time :)
Based partly on Tahereh Mafi's own experiences, although not a memoir, this was a thought-provoking read, which didn't shy away from making the protagonist actually quite unlikeable at times. The smaller scale repercussions of the racial tensions in America which peaked at that time were well-depicted, and the romance element wasn't overly cloying. A good read.
A Very Large Expanse of Sea is the story of a Muslim American girl living in the aftermath of 9/11. As a proud wearer of the hijab, Shirin has spent her whole life putting up walls to protect herself from the world's hate. Pretending not to care about anything has left her angry and hurt, but the alternative is being vulnerable to the cruelty of others, and she is determined to not let it touch her. However, everything becomes more difficult when she meets Ocean, a kind boy who seems genuinely interested in getting to know her, and Shirin is forced to decide if her happiness is worth the negative attention.
I first sought out Mafi's Shatter Me series not based on the blurb, but her name. It was unquestionably Iranian, and I was in awe. Whenever I imagined getting my own stories out into the world, I felt certain that using my foreign-sounding name would instantly put people off picking up my books. But here was someone like me, who was not only a bestselling author, but got there using her actual name.
I ended up falling completely in love with the Shatter Me books, reading them all this Spring in just a few days. So when I heard about AVELOS, I knew I had to read it.
This book, people. This book! It had me crying at the 3% mark. There were so many tiny things I could relate to. The names, the food, the fact that when Shirin's parents asked their guest if he wanted more food and he said no they dished more out for him anyway, and did the same when it came to tea. It was all the cultural things I knew and lived but never saw expressed in words before. I didn't even know it could be expressed in words. It was my reality made real.
It's important to clarify that I do not wear the hijab, and so there are a many number of things Shirin experiences that I have never felt myself. I grew up in a pretty diverse community, am white passing, and have a name that could pass as European if it wasn't questioned too much. I feel almost guilty for comparing my life to Shirin's, because really there's no comparison. But I've had those moments where people hear a country name and react strangely. Never the verbal abuse that Shirin receives, but looks, questions, and statements that are just blatantly incorrect.
Shirin is angry. And is totally in her right to be. Mafi does an excellent job of getting you into the minds of her characters, to understand what it's like to experience microaggressions and full on cruelty on a daily basis. But beneath all her abrasiveness is a character who is witty, stylish, and passionate about breakdance. She is real and human, something that people can forget in their ignorance.
AVELOS is a gorgeous book that reminds us that there is so much more to people than the assumptions we make about them. It's often crushing and full of heartache, but filled with a lot of hope too. There isn't anything out there right now that comes close to comparing to this book. It's about strength and growth and kindness and humanity, and it needs to be read.
Thank you to Edelweiss for providing me with this ebook in exchange for an honest review, and to Netgalley for providing a sampler.
Diversity note: Muslim Iranian-American protagonist
Warnings: racism, islamaphobia
Set against the backdrop of 9/11, it's also full of things that I personally cannot identify with: ridiculous racist remarks such as university lecturer openly suggesting that a Muslim girl in hijab cannot possibly be in his advanced English class (presumably because there is an assumption that her English can't be that good!). Her response is, of course, "My English is f*** perfect".
I don't know how likely this sort of thing to have happened in a university or any educational institution in America but I struggle to imagine any British or Western European lecturer being able to make those sorts of extremely non-PC comments today and still keeping their jobs! So, despite the fact that I believe racism exists, I struggled to identify with some of those things in the book.
It's not badly written but it's nothing special and as such uninteresting.