Very Large Expanse of Sea
by Mafi, Tahereh

A year after 9/11, Muslim teenager Shirin has completely withdrawn from social life, until she meets Ocean James in her biology class and is tempted to actually let her guard down.

*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. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2018 Booklist 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) Copyright Kirkus 2019 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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