A Very Large Expanse of Sea
Author: Tahereh Mafi
It’s 2002, a year after 9/11, and Shirin has just started at yet another school. It’s an extremely turbulent time for the world, but especially 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. But 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. She decided long ago not to trust anyone anymore, and she doesn’t expect, or even try, to fit in anywhere or let anyone close enough to hurt her. She drowns out her frustrations with music and spends her afternoons breakdancing 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.