When Michael met Mina by Randa Abdel-Fattah
When Michael meets Mina, they are at a rally for refugees – standing on opposite sides.
Mina fled Afghanistan with her mother via a refugee camp, a leaky boat and a detention centre.
Michael’s parents have founded a new political party called Aussie Values.
They want to stop the boats.
Mina wants to stop the hate.
When Mina wins a scholarship to Michael’s private school, their lives crash together blindingly.
How to buy it: QBD the bookshop, paperback $18.99
When can I get my hands on it: Now!
What am I in for: Young adult, politics, romance
Young adult is not a genre I generally gravitate towards; however I’m glad I took a chance on this book. It tackles a very current and sensitive topic and I think Fattah gave a fair voice to both sides. I really enjoyed her writing style and there were some real standout characters in this book. Firstly Paula, the girl who speaks in Oscar Wilde quotes. I love a strong female character and she embodies a lot of great qualities. My other standout was Nathan, Michael’s younger brother. His matter-of-fact way of speaking added a quirkiness and light humour that I really enjoyed.
If I had to point out one negative thing about Fattah’s writing it would be the few cheesy moments in the book. They were few and far between but still very corny. Other than that her writing style is solid. A lot of young adult authors fall into the trap of dumbing down their writing due to their target audience. While I do agree that a large majority of teenagers are complete morons, I appreciate an author who doesn’t compromise the quality of their writing in order to fit a niche.
This is a very character driven book. Despite being told from two POVs, I felt like Michael was the MC. His change and development is gradual, realistic and exciting to follow. I found myself wanting to hear his side of everything because he was a lot more interesting than Mina. There are a lot of comparisons between this book and Melina Marchetta’s Looking for Alibrandi. While there are some similar themes, I think Fattah holds her own. What surprised me the most was how much I actually laughed while reading this. Fattah has a very witty and sarcastic sense of humour that fits well with the tone of the novel.
If you are going to pick this book up (which I highly recommend you do) do not expect a lot of romance. This book is about 20 percent romance and 80 percent cultural and social issues. I personally enjoy stories that are not primarily focused on the romantic aspects so for me this was a welcome surprise. Michael and Mina’s relationship complements the story well without overshadowing the real issues being addressed.
I’ve never read anything by Fattah before and this book has garnered my interest in her. I’m keen to see what her non-fiction books are like. Let me know if you guys have read any of her other work and what you thought!
Final rating: 4/5