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A Very Large Expanse of Sea

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  40,316 ratings  ·  7,730 reviews
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
Hardcover, 310 pages
Published October 16th 2018 by HarperTeen
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“I'm going to get asked this question so much because she falls in love with this white boy, Ocean, and I'm ma…more

“I'm going to get asked this question so much because she falls in love with this white boy, Ocean, and I'm married to a white man. The obvious answer is no: I met my husband [the writer Ransom Riggs] as an adult, and we were very different people than this character and her love interest. But Ocean's personality is inspired quite a bit by my husband's personality. And there are certain conversations that they have that I've absolutely had with my husband, things that they have to face together, like the complications of being in an interracial relationship.”(less)
This question contains spoilers... (view spoiler)
Leena Shammasi It is not and that is why it is bad. I am so disappointed in Tahereh Mafi.

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.19  · 
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 ·  40,316 ratings  ·  7,730 reviews

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chai ♡
Y’all mind if I cry because if you’d told 16 year-old me that one day I’ll read a NYT best-selling book where a Muslim Hijabi teen gets her own coming of age story and her own big romance instead of being the token (stereotyped) minority character or some cultural prop used only to further the writer’s favorite white girl…it would have made a world of difference.

So, what’s this book about?

Shirin could scarcely remember what her life had been like, back before the events of 9/11 had made of i
Jesse (JesseTheReader)
I got my hands of an ARC of this back at BEA and I regret not reading it till now. This book was INCREDIBLE. It's definitely one of my favorite books to come out this year. It was eye opening and heart breaking and beautiful. ...more
Christine Riccio
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was fantastic.
Sabaa Tahir
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the best contemporary books I've ever read, and hands-down the best YA on what it means to be a Muslim American post 9/11. Tahereh Mafi pulls no punches, spares no feelings and tells the absolute truth and it is beautiful, rare and heartbreaking. If there's one book you read this year, make it this one. ...more
Emma Giordano
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
4.5 Stars! Review to come.

CW: islamophobia & xenophobia
Whitney Atkinson
October 2018
Updating with my full thoughts now that the book is out! I wrote all of this down when I first read it in May.

I was nervous starting this book because the first 25% of this lays a lot of groundwork and there’s a lot of telling instead of showing. Despite this, I was highlighting paragraphs basically every other page because Shirin’s experiences and anger born from them was so powerful. This book cuts the crap from Shatter Me & Furthermore’s writing style and says it how it is. Gone
I’m finding it difficult forming words and putting it onto paper here. I felt a whole range of emotions reading this book and it became exhausting to read. In a good way.

This is a semi-autobiographical story, set in America, following the tragedy of 9/11, where we follow Shirin trying to navigate a world where Islamophobia is rampant, her existence questionable. The hate is apparent and because she stands out due to her hijab, she’s on the constant end of receiving racist remarks and at times,
Sep 05, 2018 rated it liked it
This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription

Actual Rating: 3.5 stars

“I was stuck in another small town, trapped in another universe populated by the kind of people who’d only ever seen faces like mine on their evening news, and I hated it.

🌟 I should start this review by making one point very clear: I am an Arab Muslim Palestinian guy, so I do understand this book more than most readers will.

🌟 I like that Tahereh is trying all different kid of things like MG and
Feb 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
“I understood too well what it was like to feel like you were defined by one superficial thing - to feel like you would never escape the box people had put you in”

I'd never name a book "a very large" anything. Now that I've read the book I get the reference and although I realise it's meant to be poetic...I still think it's a bad title.

I was in the mood for a very typical, down to earth, contemporary YA and I'm glad this book satisfied that hunger. I wasn't sure what to expect though. Tahereh go
may ➹
can you believe I was on the verge of tears over.....heteros
destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
If you know my reading tastes much, you’ll already know that I almost never pick up a contemporary novel unless it involves one of three things: diverse rep, a heartbreaking learning experience (for the reader or the characters), or a romance so sweet and lovable that I can’t help but get sucked in. It’s really rare that I find a book that has all three of those traits, yet here we are.

I didn’t understand how anyone could be so violently angry with me for something I hadn’t done, so much
oh wow. im surprised by how much i actually enjoyed this! much more than i thought i would, considering i really had no expectations for it whatsoever. but it wasnt always upward positivity.

actually, my feelings whilst reading this would look similar to a square root symbol - √ - if i were to graph it. it began with pretty neutral feelings (like i said, no expectations), before plunging in great frustration (i found the main character to be extremely unlikable and insufferable) but then pleasan
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-books, fave-reads, 2018
A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi broke me while simultaneously filling my mind, soul and heart with vast emotions all at the same time.

This book deserves all the stars for the raw emotion it made me feel. Tahereh Mafi's voice was so honest - Shirin was funny, intelligent, clever and so angry. She was the perfect narrator. My heart bled for her. Shirin's pain was so real - I wanted to hug her fiercely. The story follows Shirin as her family moves to yet another new city. Sh
Larry H
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read for a number of different reasons. I read for relaxation, for entertainment, for escape. I read to be provoked into thought or action, I read to feel, and sometimes my funny bone or my tear ducts need a good workout. And sometimes, I read to learn.

The ideal book is a combination of at least a few of these, which was one of the reasons I enjoyed Tahereh Mafi's newest novel, A Very Large Expanse of Sea . I empathized with the characters and found the story emotional and appealing, but I
C.G. Drews
Dec 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Well this is just a brilliant story that gave me far too many emotions. Honestly I'm just feeling all the things and I didn't expect less from the queen Tahereh Mafi!! ajfsdklad I know this book is hugely drawn on from personal experience and just walking in Shirin's shoes, with the micro-aggressions (and the outright huge racist and xenophobic actions from people around her) and her hate of school and aching fear of wanting to love but not wanting to be's an important story.

And I am j
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Tatiana by: book club
2.5 stars, generously rounded up.

Islamophobia is terrible, but writing about it as a background to an overwrought, angsty, dull "Guys like you don't talk to girls like me" teen romance was an odd choice, IMO. It shifted the narrative's focus from Shirin's pain to her boyfriend's, making him the central recipient of hate. As a white woman married (for a long time, we met in 2003) to an Asian man who is in turns perceived as an "Arab" or "Mexican," depending on the preferred hated racial group of
Hannah Greendale
Aside from a few short bursts of insight on a Muslim girl suffering racists microaggressions a year after 9/11, A Very Large Expanse of Sea is your average, run-of-the-mill coming-of-age YA romance featuring a teenager who hates school, laments life, is awkward around boys, doesn't understand her feelings for the first guy who's kind to her, etc., etc., etc.

Lots of telling; crucial moments that hold vast potential for tension and emotional depth are glossed over in brief recap. One male charact
Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
This was PHENOMENAL. I've always really enjoyed Tahereh's books but this being a contemporary really just stepped everything up for me. Fuck, I loved this SO MUCH. dsafsahdfkjsahfd

Please join us tomorrow (12/14) on Kassie's channel at 8pm PST as we discuss this amazing read. I hope to see you there!
Jan 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: contemporary
“I didn't believe it was possible to hide a woman's beauty. I thought women were gorgeous no matter what they wore, and I didn't think they owed anyone an explanation for their sartorial choices. Different women felt comfortable in different outfits.
They were all beautiful.”
― Tahereh Mafi, A Very Large Expanse of Sea

This was a buddy read with my beautiful friend Imane.


I wanted to like this, really wanted to and I did enjoy the writing style and the cute romance but my biggest problem was Shiri
Korrina  (OwlCrate)
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars rounding up to 5. This book was really intense, raw and honest. I really felt how personal of a story this was for the author to write, and am grateful that she is putting this book out into the world.
♛ may
i'm conflicted, im conflicted, im conflicted, im conflicted, im conflicted, im conflicted, im conflicted, im conflicted, im conflicted

i got a lot to ??unpack?? but i dont know if i'm going to unpack it, so stay tuned, i guess



i'm sitting here reading this book and lowkey getting emotional bc there are comments and phrases that are just so natural to the main characters and I DIDNT THINK I WOULD EVER SEE THE DAY WHEN THIS WAS NORMAL IN A YA BOOK 😭😭😭😭😭
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’m a white girl. I know the privilege the color of my skin gives me.
Sometimes people stare at me, I can feel their eyes on me while crossing the street. It happens once in a lifetime and it gives me shivers. I don’t know why they do it, but I know they aren’t commenting the color of my skin, they are not assuming my culture or my religion. I don’t get racist comments, never had, never will.

This book was a punch in the stomach.
And if it was a punch in the stomach for me, a girl who never has
i'm emo and I WISH THERE WAS MORE ...more
alana ♡
This book was EVERYTHING.

I posted a mini review on my blog, you can check it out HERE!

I thought I understood white privilege but this book.. THIS BOOK checked my ass real quick.

I don’t even have words. Please just do yourself a favor and add it to your TBR immediately.

Full review to come closer to release date!




Tahereh, darling, you are SLAYING 2018.
What did we do to deserve you?
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My favorite read of the year so far. so raw, emotional, and hopeful
Kayla Dawn
Definitely not a bad book, just not my cup of tea.
Elyse  Walters
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Could NOT pull away!!!!
Alright...I know I’m behind on a couple of reviews... ( no rules here right?/!)... lol
Busy with a remodeling project ...’
And a girl needs sleep...

I enjoyed both the Audiobook & ebook... sync combination!
LOVE the storytelling... melted over the characters ....

A part I laughed: ( yet - this still tells nothing about the entire story)....
This snobby girl - a bitch in other words - had the ne
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
4 stars
“If the decision you’ve made has brought you closer to humanity, then you’ve done the right thing.”

A Very Large Expanse of Sea is a YA Contemporary following Shirin, a Muslim teenager. It takes place a year or two after 9/11. What was interesting to me straight away was the timeline. I was also a teenager during 9/11, it happened my sophomore year of high school, so I was essentially the same age as Shirin while all this was going on. My life, however, was very different.

Oct 17, 2018 marked it as to-read
Sounds good but it's Tahereh Mafi so it is going to be fragile and melancholic for sure. ...more
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

Yeeeesh, or as this book would say . . .


You know what makes me want to punch someone in the throat more than anything in the universe? When the only words they can come up with during an argument are “wow” or “whatever.” The fact that this is pretty much the only response either of the two main characters in this book have to anything that offends them did not bode well for my enjoyment. Not to mention the laundry list of oth
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Tahereh Mafi is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Shatter Me series. She was born in a small city somewhere in Connecticut and currently resides in Santa Monica, California with her husband, fellow author Ransom Riggs. She can usually be found over-caffeinated and stuck in a book. Shatter Me is her first series, with television rights optioned by ABC Signature Studios; Fur ...more

Articles featuring this book

  As dedicated readers already know, some of the best and most innovative stories on the shelves come from the constantly evolving realm of...
63 likes · 12 comments
“If the decision you’ve made has brought you closer to humanity, then you’ve done the right thing.” 158 likes
“I didn't believe it was possible to hide a woman's beauty. I thought women were gorgeous no matter what they wore, and I didn't think they owed anyone an explanation for their sartorial choices. Different women felt comfortable in different outfits.
They were all beautiful.”
More quotes…