A Very Large Expanse of Sea Read-Along Part 2
Here are my thoughts on the second half of Tahereh Mafi’s A Very Large Expanse of Sea Part 2 (Chapters 18 on). Warning: there are SPOILERS here, of course.
• Ocean and Shirin’s kiss (p. 171) I love first kisses. I mean I love reading about them. And writing them.
• Shirin finding out about Ocean being a star basketball player—yikes! I had no clue either, but I was a bit curious as to where he was on the high school social scale. Turns out, he’s pretty high up there. This is the section where it fell apart for me and when I peeked at the end because I had a feeling about where we might be headed. Does it make me a chicken? Maybe. But everything happens so quickly and then it’s summarized. So it feels rushed and not all at the same time. Or perhaps it just feels rushed for me because I spoiled it?
• Shirin’s picture being taken in the bathroom. Wow. I mean, to quote Shirin (and Ocean), “Wow”. It takes balls to plan out such a mean thing to do as taking someone’s picture without their permission. (No, it’s not the same thing, Mini Me.) I can’t even comprehend the meanness involved in deciding to do something like that. Maybe it’s because I’m a goody-goody, but still. (Yes, I had to censure myself there and I took out a bad word, but I do feel the situation warrants it.)
• We find out that Shirin was attacked after 9/11. And the cops blow the whole incident off. Ugh. Victim blaming or minimizing an incident like this is not okay. At the same time I can see that exact scenario happening, as it likely did x 100 in the aftermath of 9/11. As it likely still happens now.
Coach Hart’s interference for the sake of basketball seems a bit unrealistic but realistic enough to ring true. Unfortunately I like to disbelieve some people capable of actions/words like this because I like to believe that people are better than this. However, I know that his interference for the sake of the team (and likely fueled by a bit of racism too) is likely all too real.
I can totally see Shirin’s social status climbing right after the talent show. While I’d like to think it’s due to her peers finally seeing past the scarf/veil/hijab, I think it also rings true to how teens operate (subconsciously) in real life. “What if Ocean had fallen for me now?” and “Would the timing have made a difference? The breathtaking levels of their hypocrisy had given me a migraine.” (p. 289)
Ocean reading Shirin’s journal and punching the coach—YES! Also, I loved this insight: “I just didn’t think I was worth the sacrifices he was making for me.” (p. 294) I had a feeling that journal would come into play at the end. Though I don’t think it’s okay that he read her journal without her permission, I like that the two of them finally open up to each other. Again, the ending felt a bit rushed to me after the slow burn, but it may be because there is a bit of summarizing up their school year at the end.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading A Very Large Expanse of Sea and I’d definitely recommend it to everyone.
For my thoughts on the first half of AVLEOS and my thoughts on the where I was on 9/11 and the aftermath (physically and mentally) as a med student living in Boston at the time, click here.
Diversity Side Note: Although I am not Persian or Muslim, I could really feel for Shirin and imagine what high school must have been like for her. I can imagine myself being in the same position as her in high school even though we grew up in different circumstances. It’s possible because even though I haven’t faced racism to the extent that she has, I have encountered many instances of racism as a child and as an adult. Also I could relate to her feelings of dating someone from a different culture than the one I grew up in. AVLEOS is a great opening to a discussion about being Muslim in America, among other topics. Bonus: the novel has been optioned for movie rights. I can’t wait to see the breakdancing!
[My apologies! Apparently even though I wrote out my post in my notebook, I never actually posted it. A big thank you to my friends who read the book with me in February.]
Tell Dr. Bookworm!
Have you ever spoiled a book for yourself by reading the end first or while you’re in the middle of a book? Let me know in the comment section.