Michael’s father runs an organization called Aussie Values that is against the acceptance of refugees from Afghanistan. Mina is one of the refugees Australia accepts, and ends up going to Micheal’s private school on an internship. Mina’s appearance makes Michael question everything he thought he knew before.
Why this book?: I’ve heard good things about it, and my school library had just gotten a copy in.
I have very conflicting feelings on this one, but I also feel like I can’t say much. I am neither Muslim, nor Afghan. I may be biracial, but I also can’t say anything on the rep that is in this book, because it doesn’t relate to me in the least. That being said, while I can’t say anything on the representation and message portion, I did have a few problems with the narrative, as well as the characters in general, not relating to their race or political opinions.
I often have problems with stories that feature the bigots opinions and their evolution rather than the victims story. That’s how this book starts. Micheal is a gullible young man who follows his parent’s opinions without question, until he meets a girl that makes him question everything. And I found that to be a very difficult start, because I found myself wanting to drop this book from his pure ignorance and hatred that he threw around without thought. Also the fact that Michael chose to open his mind only due to the fact that he had a crush on Mina, who is the epitome of who his parents hates, really bothered me. But like I said before, I don’t want to step out of my lane.
The plot of this book was hard to parse, because it seemed to be based within Michael’s development of his own opinions and beliefs. Otherwise, the story was very bland. Characters other than Michael and Mina were fairly underdeveloped, although I did enjoy a few of them. My enjoyment of the characters certainly did balance out the hole that the plot left, but then both of those were ruined with the repeated use of ableist language. There were jokes about eating disorders, talk about cr*zy ex-girlfriends, not to mention just general offensive words strewn throughout. Any enjoyment I could have gotten from this book was ruined by being repeatedly insulted by these words.
Final Rating: ★★★☆☆
While I can say that I enjoyed this novel, my enjoyment was ruined by ableist comments, and the lack of a plot. Abdel-Fattah’s writing was very direct, and I have no complaints about that. But overall, I’m glad that I read this book, but feel that it could have been written in a more inclusive, careful manner.
Would I Recommend?
Just as I said earlier, I can’t say much on this story. So, instead of me saying my unimportant opinions on this one, read Fadwa’s review here, which I feel discusses the importance of this novel more than I could ever.
Published: July 28th, 2016
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Page Count: 400
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary/Romance
Synopsis: via Goodreads
Boy meets girl. Girl changes everything.
Michael likes to hang out with his friends and play with the latest graphic design software. His parents drag him to rallies held by their anti-immigrant group, which rails against the tide of refugees flooding the country. And it all makes sense to Michael.
Until Mina, a beautiful girl from the other side of the protest lines, shows up at his school, and turns out to be funny, smart—and a Muslim refugee from Afghanistan. Suddenly, his parents’ politics seem much more complicated.
Mina has had a long and dangerous journey fleeing her besieged home in Afghanistan, and now faces a frigid reception at her new prep school, where she is on scholarship. As tensions rise, lines are drawn. Michael has to decide where he stands. Mina has to protect herself and her family. Both have to choose what they want their world to look like.