Stark, honest, and beautiful. I devoured A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi in one day. The main character is a Muslim girl- a hijabi Muslim girl who also break-dances on her free time. I had high hopes when I started reading, but this book did end up disappointing me a little. Instead of taking Shirin (pronounced Shee-reen), who is a very well-written character and letting her break the stereotypes, learn to not be afraid of showing her true self to others, and generally be awesome, more than two-thirds of this book was spent on her romance; the cliché falling in love with a nice, yet ignorant white boy, a socially untouchable boy that she knows she cannot have.
Without the love story, this book would have received a solid 9.5/10. I give it an 8.5/10. Even with my complaints about the excessive romance, this book showed what life was and still is unfortunately, for Muslims after the horrific tragedy of 9/11. Shirin is abused on an almost daily basis, both verbally and physically, she has learned not to trust anyone other than her family, and she has put up walls around her in order to protect herself. Her personality is developed throughout the story as she gets the chance to examine the way she feels about others, and herself. The way the story is written, the characters and the setting came together for a beautiful result. All in all, it is a book I would recommend.