A Very Large Expanse of Sea (Kobo eBook)
Longlisted for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature!
From the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Shatter Me series comes a powerful, heartrending contemporary novel about fear, first love, and the devastating impact of prejudice. This young adult novel is an excellent choice for accelerated tween readers in grades 7 to 8, especially during homeschooling. It’s a fun way to keep your child entertained and engaged while not in the classroom.
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.
This young adult historical fiction packs an absolutely powerful punch and it absolutely blew me away. It is ENORMOUSLY FUN to read, and it’s rich with juicy historical goodness, from the locations to the language used to the many chaotic adventures our characters get wrapped up in. The story introduces Monty, a young British lord being groomed to grow up as a gentleman, but to absolutely no avail. Before he takes over his family’s estate (much to his father’s chagrin), Monty embarks on a Grand Tour of Europe with his best friend (whom he’s disastrously in love with), and his sister, but they end up on a whirlwind manhunt across Europe that leaves behind everything they knew before! Full of mayhem and mystery and written with such wit, this book is also balanced with commentary about many historical prejudices involving race, sexuality, and physical ability that persisted in history.
Fall in love with their story, and be sure not to miss the sequel, Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy!
(Young Adult Historical Fiction and Romance, Ages 16+) - reviewed by Isabel