Living in an American suburb in the aftermath of 9/11, sixteen-year-old Shirin is tired of the constant and blatant racism that she faces as a Muslim girl who wears hijab. The only way she can cope with this unceasing barrage is to socially isolate herself at school. But then she meets the curious and gentle Ocean James, a boy who refuses to let her hide away. Tinged with subtle fury and imbued with hope, Tahereh Mafi’s A Very Large Expanse of Sea (HarperCollins, $18.99) is so poignant, illuminating, and heartfelt that it is nothing short of a gift. Ages 14-18.
A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi