A remarkable story about the power of tolerance from one of the most important voices in contemporary Muslim literature, critically acclaimed author Randa Abdel-Fattah.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.
Originally published in Australia, Abdel-Fattah's novel about a blossoming teenage romance could hardly be more timely; although set in Sydney, the book is acutely relevant to American readers. Michael's first glimpse of Mina is from the opposing side of a protest: she is demonstrating for refugees' rights, and he is with Aussie Values, a nationalist group founded by his father. Smitten, Michael is surprised to find that Mina is a new student in his prestigious and predominantly white high school. Their testy first exchange sets the stage for a typical opposites-attract story, except that it reveals their deep-seated differences about Mina's presence in Australia. An Afghan refugee who arrived by boat ("jumping the queue," according to Aussie Values) more than 10 years earlier, Mina has left her diverse neighborhood and school thanks to a scholarship. As she adjusts to her new environment, Michael struggles to align his evolving feelings with his family's outspoken principles. Abdel-Fattah (Where the Streets Had a Name) delivers an engaging romance within a compelling exploration of the sharply opposing beliefs that tear people apart, and how those beliefs can be transformed through human relationships. Ages 12 up.