Review originally published on Goodreads – January 7, 2019.
If I had to review this in one sentence: This novel blew me away.
Tahereh Mafi was one of my first favorite authors. Back when I decided to ditch Goodreads and just read things on my own. The Shatter Me series was so good I was addicted to it. The prose, the flowery words, the characters– I fell so hard for all of it.
So when I saw this book floating around my GR feed, as I was never never never aware of release dates, I was looking for an opportunity to have it. I had it, and then it sat unread on my bookshelf.
How unreliable can I get?
Thank God for new years and new “beginnings”, I decided to finally read it. I started with a few chapters a few nights I ago, picked it up last night and did not stop until three in the morning.
This book blew me away.
Tahereh Mafi should right more YA contemporary romances. She should write more realistic fiction. Knowing that this book is an #OwnVoices type of read, the emotions seeped deeper in me.
I am a Filipino, a Christian, living in Manila, Philippines, which is mainly a Christian country. So, I have no personal experience on being the receiving end of Islamophobia. But I am from a family of Muslims. My grandfather practices Islam, and I have aunts and cousins that wear hijabs.
Even in a country as ours, where Muslims are one of the first and largest inhabitants, there are a lot of things people say about them. I know, because I was also in highschool during 9/11. And of course, from the Philippines, also came a lot of terrorist groups like Abu Sayyaf. I know. I am aware. But this book showed me and made me feel how it was to be on the receiving end of it and not just a mere observer.
Shirin, the main character, is someone so strong and brave. She kept standing up for her faith, for her beliefs and her culture. Even if it meant being alone, being ridiculed and being humiliated. I admire her for it. She built up high walls and I can’t blame her for it. Her jaded and cynical disposition has a deep foundation based on experience. Who am I to take lightly all her pain?
Enter Ocean, another brave soul. Innocent and naïve he may be, he took chances on initial curiosity and attraction. I swooned so hard for this boy. He was persistent. He never gave Shirin up. He fought for her when it was needed. He softened Shirin’s heart and made her believe love can happen regardless of race, religion and economic status.
I love the romance in this book. The way it flourished was so subtle and then so powerful. Ocean kept trying while Shirin kept pushing back. He never relented. He believed in them and that was how Ocean stole my heart. So many times I felt weak in the knees while reading this. Their love is the kind of first love that very seldom comes along. The kind of first love, so selfless and so eager and so hopeful, that even I, a casual observer would like to bet my all just so they could have their happy ending.
Tahereh Mafi wrote this so well. It was straightforward writing. It was mature, emotional and raw. It wasn’t her previous style, but this one made me crave for more. I wish I can see more of these characters because I did not want this story to end.
This is a love story. But, this is also so much more than that.
☁ THE CRITERIA ☁
🌻 Support Characters:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
🌻 Writing Style:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
🌻 Character Development:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
🌻 Page Turner:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
🌻 Book Cover:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
☁FINAL VERDICT: 4.91/5☁