A Very Large Expanse of Sea
Shirin is a normal teenage girl who is new at her school. She has a love of breakdancing and wants only to blend in. But in the year following 9/11, it's impossible. She is Muslim and she wears a hijab, both of which make her targets--sometimes just of speculation but other times of violence. She is proud of who she is and the choices she makes, but also tired of being a target. She is suspicious of anyone who tries to get close to her, including Ocean James. He is intriguing, but she can't imagine why he would want to be her friend--or more.
I don't read a lot of YA, but when I'm interested in a YA novel I do like to try to find it in audio--most have worked well for me, this one included. While this did contain somewhat typical YA romance storylines, Shirin's struggles as a Muslim teen post-9/11 were interesting and sympathetic.
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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, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she 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 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.