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.
This was a cute YA novel which I got through quite quickly because it was so easy to read and the pace gradually picked up as the story progressed. The novel managed to deal with some very important and difficult issues in society but did so in a light and casual way which was suitable for the genre.
Mina and Michael were both good characters in their own right although each had certain aspects of their storyline which didn’t quite sit right with me. Mina and her background of going to Australia as a refugee was clear and it was also apparent that she was Muslim by name. There was no side of her life, other than eating halal meat, in which her faith or religion played any part and this was the aspect of her character that I struggled with. I felt it should have been important for her faith, or even lack of it, to be expressed to the reader, seeing as she was Muslim.
Michael’s character also had some discrepancies. He seemed to bumble along his life aimlessly agreeing with his parents’ extremely problematic and anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim beliefs until he meets and fancies a Muslim girl… Yeah that just didn’t feel right at all. The author tried to make it clear that it was only a catalyst and Michael subsequently did all his own research and came to his own conclusions but that felt a bit forced.
My favourite part about this story was Mina’s friendship with a girl at her new school, Paula. Although this easy and almost magical friendship was somewhat unrealistic in itself because of the fact that it formed overnight into a fully fledged and deep friendship; I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt and it was really quite cute.
Overall this was a nice easy read, a few issues for me here and there but nothing major. It didn’t amaze me and I wouldn’t say it is a must read but if YA contemporary is your thing then definitely give it a go.