Mina was born in Afghanistan. Her tragic story begins when her father is gunned down in their home, leaving his small family no option but to flee. After a long, terrifying journey, Mina and her mother arrive in an Australian detention camp. It takes years for them to build a life in Western Sydney, a place both lauded and feared for its vibrant commingling of cultures.
Michael is the son of parents deeply invested in the Aussie Values movement. He has never really questioned their belief that Islamic refugees are terrorists bent on destroying “true” Australian culture. But then he meets beautiful, smart, hardworking Mina and loses his heart. It’s a Romeo and Juliet story for our times, infused with the insight of accomplished author Randa Abdel-Fattah.
Mina can barely remember Afghanistan, but her refugee experience separates her from her white peers. Like the United States, Australia is a nation of immigrants, which undermines claims by predominantly white-skinned people who cling to so-called intrinsic values. Antagonism against the refugees pits the Aussie Values organization against Mina’s family, leading to the outing of undocumented workers. Michael tries to help, but it becomes apparent that he must take bold action against his own family.
The current tide of Islamophobia is well integrated into The Lines We Cross, and the teen characters believably work through the fears and prejudices of family and society to find their own convictions. Abdel-Fattah offers young readers immeasurable perspective into a present-day crisis.
Diane Colson is the Library Director at City College in Gainesville, Florida.