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When Michael Met Mina by Randa Abdel-Fattah

Thursday, January 05, 2017 Geraldine 0 Comments



The Breakdown


General Info:
     Title: When Michael Met Mina
     Author: Randa Abdel-Fattah
     Genre: Contemporary, Political, YA
     Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
     Publishing Date: July 28th, 2016

Thoughts:
     Excellent:
          - Politics - covered very well
          - Writing - wonderful metaphors that illustrate political views very well 

    Things that could have been better:
         - Characters - bland
         - Characters - Mina had no character growth 

Rating: 3 stars
Goodreads | Amazon |

Initial Thoughts

I've been looking forward to reading When Michael Met Mina for SO LONG. Ever since it came out! I loved that Randa Abdel-Fattah was covering such an important topic in YA, and I wanted to see how she would explore it. 

Before Mina, my life was like a completed jigsaw puzzle but Mina has pushed the puzzle onto the floor. I have to start all over again, figuring out where the pieces go. 

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. 


A novel for anyone who wants to fight for love, and against injustice.

Thoughts

When Michael Met Mina has two narrators - Michael and Mina. The story is about the journey of Michael defying expectations, driven by his infatuation for Mina. I enjoyed reading Michael's perspective - in his perspective, I could see his struggle to defy the beliefs he's grown up with, and to defy his friends. Abdel-Fattah depicted his struggle very well, and I sympathised with his struggle. However, I didn't enjoy reading about Mina at all. I saw no character development, and I was constantly frustrated by her as I found some of her actions problematic. Plus, I felt like I only knew three things about her - that she is a refugee, she's smart and she's Muslim. 
Most of the characters were unmemorable - Abel-Fattah overloaded the first few pages with so many names of different characters, that they were barely distinguishable to me. 
The romance between Michael and Mina felt forced and very insta-lovey. It was difficult for me to really get on board with it, as I never really saw a spark between them. For one, Michael noticed Mina at a rally, by her eyes. Her EYES. -cringes- Their common interests were just with music, there was no extra oomph for me. 
tldr: I don't ship. 

The strongest part of this book is the political message that it conveys. It really shows how racism can be everywhere, even in nice people. It doesn't depict racism as a black or white concept- there are shades of grey as well, as the people who you don't normally think are racist can be racist as well. The way that Abdel-Fattah writes really emphasises this, with metaphors that bring a strong punch, which help illustrate why it's so important to reduce and eliminate racism. 
"Everybody's pruned and shaped [like a sapling] somehow, I guess. But not everybody has to fight to stop from being torn out of the ground"
I especially loved how Abdel-Fattah illustrated why Michael's family's views were wrong - how they expected foreigners to assimilate to Judeo-Christian values. 

Final Thoughts

Randa Abdel-Fattah's When Michael Met Mina is a wonderful work that explains current political discourse in Australia with regards to asylum seekers very well. However, I didn't love the characters, and felt like most of them were bland. If you're looking to understand what racism is and why it is so damaging, When Michael Met Mina is a great read. But if you're looking for a heartfelt romance, or characters that you'll love, then this book is not the book for you. 


Rating

This is based off my Goodreads review, which ranks the book by its characters, plot, writing style and entertainment value. 


Thoughts in a Phrase 

A topical political read drizzled with instalove.

Keep reading and loving books!
Geraldine


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