A Very Large Expanse of Sea

Narrated by: Priya Ayyar
Length: 6 hrs and 43 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (277 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A National Book Award Longlist title!

From the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of the Shatter Me series comes a powerful, heartrending contemporary novel about fear, first love, and the devastating impact of prejudice.

It's 2002, a year after 9/11. It's an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a 16-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. 

©2018 Tahereh Mafi (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

Editor's Pick

Timely and important
"I was immediately enticed by this audiobook simply because of its beautiful title—and then it became a story I had to hear. A Very Large Expanse of Sea is drawn from author Tahereh Mafi’s own experiences as a Muslim teen facing violence and racism in the turbulent times following 9/11. It explores a side of things that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention and one that I think is as important to hear now as it was then. Priya Ayyar’s narration perfectly captures the voice of the main character, Shirin—a bright and insightful 16 year old with wisdom beyond her years. This is also a wonderful coming-of-age story, a sweet romance, and a solid sibling relationship tale—plus it has break-dancing!"—Catherine H., Audible Editor

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Fenomenal

I can honestly say this is one of the best books I have ever read. And the world would be a better place if more people did read it.

4 people found this helpful

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Good Story, But the narration...

I like the story, but the narrator sounds like a high school student reading in class. There is no variation in tone, pitch, or expression for the different characters and situations.

2 people found this helpful

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Amazing

This an amazing story I didint want it to end. You love the persistence of both characters and fall in love with their tale.

2 people found this helpful

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AMAZINGGGGG

This was my very first audiobook ever and I absolutely LOVED THIS BOOK. I was so incredibly invested in Shirin & Ocean’s relationship. I felt her pain throughout the entire thing. It was just so incredibly written and so beautiful and heartbreaking and amazing. Ocean is probably one of my favorite book characters to date. I just loved the book so much. I would love a follow-up book to see if Shirin and Ocean ever find their way back to one another after high school because I just need them to be together and be happy. UGH.

2 people found this helpful

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A Very Large Expanse of Sea Book Review

A Very Large Expanse of Sea was a novel I picked up after reading the Shatter Me series. After reading the amazing series, I decided to read more of Tahereh Mafi’s work, and this novel did not disappoint. It is such a powerful story, one that opens up to the public to reveal the story of a struggling teen during turbulent times. The struggles this novel portrays captivates its readers and brings awareness to the prejudices a young, innocent girl received as a result of her culture and religion.

The story portrays the struggles Shirin ensures and how prejudice takes a hold of her life for so long that she closes herself off to the world. The story takes the reader on a journey of discovery and is full of emotion, anger, sadness, and raw insight into the life of a young Muslim girl who struggles to find herself in a world that sees her in such a negative manner. Shirin manages to find passion and a love for breakdancing and music and as a result discovers who she is as a result.

A Very Large Expanse of Sea is a beautifully written story. I enjoyed it and found it to be extremely enlightening. After reading so much science fiction and fantasy, it was so different to pick up a novel that places me back into the ‘real world’ and make me aware of the events that inspired so many authors. This novel is Tahereh Mafi’s testimony of hard times and how she managed to find love and happiness in music and breakdancing.

Audible Review:

Ayyar’s narration captivate the emotions in such a way that bring the story to life for listeners. The narration allows readers to keep listening and latches on to the frustration Shirin displays and her battle against prejudice. I extremely enjoyed listening to the story at a 1.50 speed. For those of us who like to multitask and listen on the go, I recommend listening at a 1.75 speed, so one does not miss anything. For those who are listening while reading the book, I found 2.5 speed and 3.0 speed to be the best speeds. 3.5 was too fast for me, and I was missing a lot of what the narrator was saying and had to eventually slow down the narrator’s reading speed.

2 people found this helpful

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A must read!!!

WOW! this book was beautiful and heartbreaking but more importantly, it was POWERFUL and eye opening!
Everyone should read/listen to this story!

4 people found this helpful

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Amazing Book!

Following Shirin and her life was a great read and her struggle through this coming of age story is really inspiring! I liked everything about this book! It is important that young adult girls read this book to learn from Shirin and her friends and family. Her journey touched my heart. I hope to read more books like A very large expanse of sea in the future!

1 person found this helpful

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Let this book move you.

I wish I had the author’s capability to fully encapsulate the sensation of falling in love. Each moment between the main characters becomes reality; I was reliving the great loves of my life in real time alongside these characters. The novel reads like a Disney Channel original movie, but in the BEST way: genuine and never cheesy. The value of the story is of course the way Mafi illuminates all the bigotry toward Middle-eastern-Americans and the privilege it requires to ignore another persons humanity, but the love story that drives the narrative is true and beautiful. The “love is the answer” undercurrent is maybe cliché, but anything less would have been unsatisfying.

1 person found this helpful

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Read. This. Book.

More important for us now more than ever. Whilst other stories deal with racism, this is much more about prejudices in general. This truly deals with both sides and how this can continue to spiral if we don’t change on the inside.

⚖️ Plot: I cried. When I learned that it was Mafi’s quasi autobiography, I cried even more. What is even worse than dealing with ignorant people is not being able to recognize the normal, human, compassionate people. If bunch a whole race together, we are being racist too. This story really makes you look inwards to see what you’ve given up because of your own prejudices.

🗺 World: Having grown up in the Middle East and being brown myself, this is very close to my heart. Whilst I’m not Arab, the food, the culture, the language is so rich and beautiful that it breaks my heart to continue seeing the unrest that here. I am so proud to live in a world where we can have melting pots of culture wherever we are.

💑 Characters: I love the way Mafi portrayed both Ocean and Shirin. This was no typical hero and victim. This is everyday life and how the good will always rise above the rest. In typical Mafi fashion we don’t get a happily ever after, but only a hint of it. In this instance through, it was the perfect ending for me.

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Great story

I enjoyed this book. I am a high school teacher so I could relate to the story. I loved that the ending wasn’t perfect.