Wednesday, October 19, 2016

When Michael Met Mina, by Randa Abdel-Fattah

Staff review by Chris Saliba

Randa Abdel-Fattah's novel for young adults discusses urgent contemporary issues in a way that is warm, entertaining and also challenging.
Michael and Mina come from different worlds. Michael’s parents are well heeled, educated and upper-middle class. They are also politically active, having created a movement called Aussie Values. The main focus of their politics is an anti-refugee message. Mina fled Afghanistan with her family and arrived in Australia by boat. She then spent time in immigration detention. Finally,  her family made a life for themselves in cosmopolitan Western Sydney. A brilliant student, Mina has won herself a scholarship to a prestigious private school. The very school that Michael is a student of.

A series of events brings the two into ideological battle. Michael soons finds that all his preconceived ideas about refugees and global politics are based on assumptions. He has simply adopted his parent’s politics, without too much independent thought. Can these two very different young people build a bridge and meet somewhere in the middle, even find love?

Randa Abdel-Fattah’s novel for young adults is an absolute winner. It has a cracking pace and a plot built around a compelling and urgent subject. Abdel-Fattah works the complex politics of refugees and Muslim identity into a teen romance that doesn’t dumb down its serious subject matter. Warm, entertaining, but also challenging.

When Michael Met Mina, by Randa Abdel-Fattah. Published by Pan Australia. ISBN:
9781743534977 RRP: $18.99

To sign up for our monthly newsletter, featuring new releases, book reviews and favourite articles from around the web, click here.