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: Whichwood (Tahereh Mafi)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

A new adventure about a girl who is fated to wash the bodies of the dead in this companion to Furthermore.

Our story begins on a frosty night…

Laylee can barely remember the happier times before her beloved mother died. Before her father, driven by grief, lost his wits (and his way). Before she was left as the sole remaining mordeshoor in the village of Whichwood, destined to spend her days washing the bodies of the dead and preparing their souls for the afterlife. It’s become easy to forget and easier still to ignore the way her hands are stiffening and turning silver, just like her hair, and her own ever-increasing loneliness and fear.

But soon, a pair of familiar strangers appears, and Laylee’s world is turned upside down as she rediscovers color, magic, and the healing power of friendship.


RATING

4.5 STARS!

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

After finishing Whichwood, I can truly say that Tahereh Mafi is a great writer! Her story, characters, words written are so perfect and beautiful. This companion to Futhermore is definitely worth the wait. In my experience, Whichwood’s story is better than Futhermore in terms of story line and writing per se. I was constantly amazed while reading because of her writing was so flowery, all descriptions were perfectly describe and well-detailed. I also loved the Persian fantasy elements in the novel. All of the depiction of the main character’s work as a mordeshoor, who washes dead bodies in preparation for the afterlife were very knowledgeable and appreciated. Alice and Oliver from Futhermore appearance’s made the story even more enjoyable and entertaining and that even made the story even more wonderful. The friendship between the young children stood out the most and that was definitely the best part of the book.

Several important messages were perceived in the book, thus it shows that middle grade books do offer critical significance for us adults to ponder upon, even though the story is whimsical and amusing. One of themes that was very prominent to me was child labour. See, the book is darker than you even expected! The story revolved around Laylee, who was an overworked child and often undervalued by the society. This was definitely an exploitive act done by irresponsible grown-ups in the story. This scenario is no stranger to the real world. Children are often exploited because they (employers) think that they can simply be ordered, hence they will be deprived from going to school and experience a normal childhood. God I love stories with immense lesson for us readers to reflect!

All in all, I love everything about this story and I do hope that there will be another companion to this whimsical middle grade story!

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Sabrina

Adventure is Inevitable: A review for Furthermore (Tahereh Mafi)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

Colour and magic combine in this enchanting new middle grade fantasy from the bestselling author of the Shatter Me series.

Born as blank as canvas in a world brimming with colour and magic, Alice’s pale skin and milk-white hair mark her as an outcast. Because, for the people of Ferenwood, colour and magic are one and the same. And since the disappearance of her beloved father, Alice is more determined than ever to prove herself and her own magical abilities.

To do so she’ll have to travel into the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, with the help of a fiercely annoying boy named Oliver. But nothing in Furthermore is as it seems, and it will take all of Alice’s wits to find her father and return him safely home.

RATING

4 STARS ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

HERE’S MY THOUGHTS!

I won this book from an Instagram giveaway last week and I was honestly very looking forward into reading this masterpiece.


Furthermore follows the story of a young girl named Alice, who is born colourless and possesses no magic. Her family lives in the magical world named Ferenwood, and very much everyone in the world has a magical power which can awe people.

Alice’s father has gone missing and leaves his wife and four children behind. Everyone wonders where his father is up to. Being the eldest of the family, Alice mostly spends her time alone in the forest because she feels disconnected from her own family. She feels she doesn’t have a place at home after Father left. Her mother treats her badly because Mother thinks she is the reason why Father is missing.

“Why must you look like the rest of us? Why do you have to be the one to change? Change the way we see. Don’t change the way you are.”

Alice then meets Oliver, a boy who is first known to be such a pain in the ass towards Alice. He would tease upon her condition and makes Alice feels very intimidated and less confident. However, one day, Oliver comes to Alice and delivers a news saying that he is able to safe Father. Alice accepts the offer to search Father with Oliver.

They explore the land of Furthermore, which is full of magic and whimsical traps to outsiders who break the law. The system at Furthermore is very particular and systematic as well. Alice and Oliver meet their inevitable adventure in order to save Father.

I find the story to be confusing at times when the narrator tries to talk about how the world and system work as a whole because some things are not well elaborated. Alice is a highly likeable character to me as I could really understand and get into her feelings easily. I love reading the adventure that the book offers and what makes me glad is Tahereh Mafi’s writing. I wish I can write like her. Her sentences’ structure are short yet so perfect to read. She wins my heart by her writing. (This is my first time encountering her book)

I also love the messages that the book tries to offer. Love, friendship and sacrifice are among the main themes discussed in the book. Although this is a middle grade book, I can say that this book is very engaging and fun to read. I also love reading books with less number of pages in a chapter, because it makes the reading progress more smoothly.

However, I feel like the ending is a bit too rushed. I don’t see the plot twist coming at the end of the book. I love the end of the story where Alice gets her own happy ending.

Overall, this is a good story. Looking forward for more Tahereh Mafi’s writing in the future.

Top Ten Tuesday | Top Ten Books On My Fall TBR List

Greetings Book People!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly event hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish.

I am taking this opportunity to do this fun meme every week starting today so I can share fun stuffs related to books! This is also my first time writing Top Ten Tuesdays posts!

This week’s topic is Top Ten Books On My Fall TBR List  ❤ Hope you guys enjoy with my choices!

Warcross by Marie Lu29385546

They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera

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Wonder Women: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

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The Dreadful Tale Of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken

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Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi

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Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

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Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

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Harry Potter: A History of Magic by J.K. Rowling

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Renegades by Marissa Meyer

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Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell

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And thats it! What is your TBR list of fall releases? Share your books down in the comment section below!

Thanks for reading!

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Sabrina