Review: A Very Large Expanse of Sea (Tahereh Mafi)

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Blurb from Goodreads: 

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.


RATING

3.5 STARS!

HERE’S MY THOUGHTS!

I have been waiting for so long to read this book and write the review for this highly anticipated read for 2018! I was honestly stoked when Tahereh finally decided to write a YA contemporary book because I knew that this book is going to be perfect. I have only read two of her books, which are the middle grade series; Furthermore and Whichwood. The books are nothing but perfect!

The unique part of this story is that this book gives us an insight on what it means to be a Muslim in a non-Muslim country after the tragedy of 9/11. We get to see Shirin’s journey on how she goes through her life as a 16-year-old student, from being a friend and facing the family dynamics in her household. This book is brutally honest and raw, different from her other masterpieces. There are no flowery writing inserted. All monologues from Shirin is just purely straight forward and truthful.

I highly appreciate Muslim hijabi girls representation in Young Adult books, because I think they are not well represented in the society. Muslims are often mistaken for bad things and they are always treated horribly by the society. Their devotion to God is always mistakenly understood to be extremism. It is not always easy for immigrants to live a peaceful life in a foreign land as people will always have bad things to say. It is even worse when there is a sickening tragedy that involves the lives of many people. One of them, who is Shirin would be badly affected by the aftermath. We see how the society, in a smaller context, the students in her school treat her. They won’t befriend her, assume her like she is invisible and also throw brutal racist remarks to her. Being a Muslim in a non-Muslim country is different from being a Muslim in Muslim country. While reading, I compare myself, between the situation in my country with the struggles of Shirin’s. I think that never in my lifetime that I would understand what she has gone through. I understand my privilege and I will never abuse it to downgrade other people. I feel angry while reading because Shirin is constantly challenged with the society’s expectation towards her. She is always violently punished for something that she has never done. Everyone deserves to live in the world without being harmed.

I learn so much from the book, what it feels like to be in a xenophobic and islamophobic world but I think I am just given a tiny glimpse about what it feels like to be a Muslim in a non-Muslim country. This book is very important for readers to devour into, because it makes us understand the prejudice towards muslims in America. Seeing all of these makes us wonder the status of our education. Has our education done a perfect job in educating our children? It is our job to ponder.

I adore the male lead, which is the love interest for Shirin. I like the relationship between Shirin and her love interest, however, I hate for the fact that the romance has taken over the whole purpose of the book. I would want the book to focus more on Shirin’s journey for self-discovery. The romance factor has defeated the sole purpose of the book. I at times don’t feel comfortable reading about their relationship because I think it is too forced, and it is used as a plot device. This is the only reason on why I don’t give this book a 5 star. I would have to say that I am mildly disappointed with the relationship part.

My most favourite part of the book is that Shirin is a close reflection of the writer herself. I have never read any book that is very private and written based on personal experience by the author and the fact that Tahereh has published a book that is very close to her is such an amazing thing. It makes the book much more authentic and honest. It shows that Tahereh is very brave to show the world that her story is important enough for readers to learn. 

I now know the meaning of the title of the book! Only those who have read it may understand the meaning of it! 😛

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Sabrina

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Review: Save the Date (Morgan Matson)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait—for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster—all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.

The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster.

There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge.

There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo.

Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractingly…cute.

Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.


RATING

4.5 STARS ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

This is my most anticipated 2018 book release! I have said this thousands of times already, but Morgan Matson is my favourite contemporary author ever. She has a knack and speciality in capturing young adult audiences in writing important themes such as family, friends and life. I truly love all of her works (except for Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour, I haven’t read it yet). It is painful and depressing that I have finished reading this book because most probably I will have to wait for another more or less 2 years for her new release 😦

It has been a while since I read a fluffy yet amazing contemporary read like this and I forget that how fast I can finish these kinds of reads and later I will be so frustrated that the book has ended 😦 It is so amazing when a book can totally mesmerize you.

Morgan Matson has changed her style of writing, where she acknowledges and writes POC and LGBT characters in her books. She has improved a lot as a writer and that shows people evolve in their writing processes.

For each book she writes, she comes up with additional elements such as paragraphs of fictional stories created by the characters in her book, song playlists by the characters etc. In Save the Date, she comes up with a brilliant idea which is Grant Central Station, which is a comic strip created by the main character’s mom. The strip is basically a real life story based on the Grants’ family and friends. It is truly refreshing on how the comic strip depicts the life of the Grants.

The plot is totally fun and fast paced. I truly enjoy all of the chapters, because all of the dialogues and monologues are enjoyable and funny. I am amazed by the Grants perseverance in preparing for the wedding as they are so many things go wrong at the very last-minute and they handle that perfectly well.

Another part that I truly enjoy is that Morgan Matson writes characters who exist in the same universe, so often in her books we see cameos from her another books are making appearances. It is heartwarming to see Andie Walker and her writer-boyfriend, as well as Governor Walker in Save the Date. Amy from Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour also makes an appearance in the book, if I am not mistaken. I also love the Avengers references in the book as we just pass the phase of post-Avengers fever which is the Infinity War movie.

I love all of characters in Save the Date, however, I wish that there is a perfect closure for Charlie’s romance with her love interest. For the few last chapters are very emotional and heartbreaking, Morgan Matson ends the book with a perfect note. From what I could say is that the book will totally make a great movie!

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Sabrina

Review: You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone (Rachel Lynn Solomon) #OwnVoices

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Blurb from Goodreads:

A moving, lyrical debut novel about twins who navigate first love, their Jewish identity, and opposite results from a genetic test that determines their fate—whether they inherited their mother’s Huntington’s disease.

Eighteen-year-old twins Adina and Tovah have little in common besides their ambitious nature. Viola prodigy Adina yearns to become a soloist—and to convince her music teacher he wants her the way she wants him. Overachiever Tovah awaits her acceptance to Johns Hopkins, the first step on her path toward med school and a career as a surgeon.

But one thing could wreck their carefully planned futures: a genetic test for Huntington’s, a rare degenerative disease that slowly steals control of the body and mind. It’s turned their Israeli mother into a near stranger and fractured the sisters’ own bond in ways they’ll never admit. While Tovah finds comfort in their Jewish religion, Adina rebels against its rules.

When the results come in, one twin tests negative for Huntington’s, and the other tests positive.

These opposite outcomes push them farther apart as they wrestle with guilt, betrayal, and the unexpected thrill of first love. How can they repair their relationship, and is it even worth saving?

From debut author Rachel Lynn Solomon comes a luminous, heartbreaking tale of life, death, and the fragile bond between sisters.


RATINGS

4.25 STARS

HERE’S MY THOUGHTS!

This is actually a very interesting read for me, as the main characters are both twins and Jewish. It is an eye-opening reading experience as the book is both educational yet entertaining at the same time.

I learn so much from this book. I now know about Jewish families and their tradition, how twins communicate with each other, Huntington’s disease and mental health issues. This book is so complex hence it is very hard for me to sit down and collect my thoughts to write my review. The points and issues discussed are important and profound as like it is totally suitable for all young adults to read.

I would like to remind all of you that there are trigger warnings: Huntington’s disease, depression, anxiety, suicide, toxic relationship and abnormal sexual desire.

I believe that this story is #OwnVoices thus it is very interesting to see many #OwnVoices stories are published because representation matters! There is so much to learn by knowing each other’s background and tradition and it warms my heart that after all we are all the same in many different ways. The characters overall are very well written, developed and diverse. There is also LGBT references which makes the story more different.

I love the dynamics of the sister’s relationship. They are totally opposite from each other, they have different interests and approach to problems that they face. They lives are heavily explored and written in the book thus I feel that their stories are the most genuine stories ever. Young adults can find their stories to be highly relatable at points when they struggle their asses off to get into great colleges and obtain flying colours. Both of them have deep parental relationships and I truly appreciate good parents figure in YA. It is important to portray good parental figure in the life of a young adult.

Rachel Lynn Solomon has done a great job on writing about Huntington’s disease. One thing that I know about when people suffer from terminal diseases is the lives of people around the patient will severely effected too, both physically and emotionally. The writer captures the scene and condition of the family affected beautifully and flawlessly.

Overall, this is a stunning 2018 debut from debut author! I look forward for more Rachel Lynn Solomon’s books in the future.

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Sabrina

 

Review: American Panda (Gloria Chao) #OwnVoices

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Blurb from Goodreads:

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth—that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedlynot Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

From debut author Gloria Chao comes a hilarious, heartfelt tale of how unlike the panda, life isn’t always so black and white.


RATINGS

4.4 STARS

HERE’S MY THOUGHTS!

This is one of my most anticipated reads of 2018! I look forward for more POC characters with diverse backgrounds and stories.

This is a coming of age story of a 17-year-old Taiwanese girl named Mei Lu, who struggles with her strict parents, who always tell her what to do and what not to do. She is a freshman at MIT and soon-to-be doctor. Her parents want her to marry the boy of their choice (who has the same roots and believes as theirs). As you can tell, young adults dislike to be told and directed at. Her brother, Xing is disowned and totally erased by their parents because of his disobedience towards the family norms. Mei is reminded not to follow his brother’s steps.

Mei knows what she wants to be and pursue. She longs for her dreams but at the same time, afraid of what her family thinks of her decisions. Family is everything for her.

Mei’s character is the strongest voice I have ever read in YA contemporary. She is definitely the role model for young adults as she gives a strong message to the readers; to always follow your instinct and dreams in order to achieve something in life. As long as it makes you happy, go for it.

Her character development is FREAKING AWESOME! Her transition from being a yes man towards her parents who only follows nonsensical instructions to being a reasonable (yet rebel) child is so moving for me. I love it how she stands on her own opinion and brave enough to cross the boundaries that her parents have carved. She fights the stereotypes and norms which Asians kids are only expected to be lawyers/doctors/engineers when they grow up. She proves that Asian kids are worth it.

I LOVE reading books with family relationships. Mei’s parents are definitely the strongest and selfless people, they are willing to give their everything just to provide Mei with a good life. However, not all families have good back story. Mei takes matter into her own hands in handling her family problems. That is what we call courage, people.

Everyone should read this gem. You’ll learn many profound things about what family is.

🙂

#AmericanPanda

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Sabrina