When Michael met Mina by Randa Abdel-Fattah
Pan Macmillan, 2016. ISBN 9781743534977
(Age: Secondary students) Highly recommended. This is superb and should be recommended reading to all high school students! Randa Abdel-Fattah is able to uncover the essence of high Sshool life and relationships, at the same time as revealing the dilemmas of the feisty Mina, the young Afghani refugee and the unsettling bigotry that exists and grows within Australian society. Abdel-Fattah does this gently, and with understanding, revealing the struggles of the very intelligent Mina as she tries to fit into a North Shore School as a scholarship holder. Her background is so foreign to the students that she shares class with that the discovery of friendship is very powerful, and her presence also changes those around her, giving them insight into their own attitudes. Mina's friendship with Michael changes his life in ground-shattering ways, and her rapport with her friend Paula is delightfully 'decorated' with Oscar Wilde quotes. Every young person should read this engaging narrative, not least because it esteems Poetry Slam events, standing up for others, academic achievement, and gives voice to the experience of those who are happy to call Australia 'home', and yet are not given the chance to understand its rules, or are criticised when they seek to hold onto a small taste of what is familiar to them.
This was a book that I could not put down. I loved the voice and concerns of the main characters and the understanding that young people are multi-faceted. I was also impressed in the way the conflict between opposing viewpoints was introduced with sensitivity, examining principles rather than descending into a distasteful brawl, and also giving insight into the way the media can also become embroiled in communicating viewpoints.