'Stella Schools Ambassador Randa Abdel-Fattah’s new YA novel, When Michael Met Mina, delves into the charged politics of refugee policy in Australia at a time when the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers is a burning topic of public debate. When Michael Met Mina tells two parallel stories: in one, a young refugee and her family are catapulted into a world where casual racism is the norm; in the other, a young man slowly comes to realise that he has grown up following his parents’ beliefs without questioning their underlying logic.
'When she was young, Mina and her family came to Australia by boat, as refugees from Afghanistan. After settling in the Western Sydney suburb of Auburn, the family suddenly has to move to the affluent North Shore when Mina receives a scholarship to an elite private school. Once there, she comes into contact with Michael, who she has met before – on the opposing side of a refugee rally. Michael’s parents have founded a new political party called ‘Aussie Values’, and Michael has quietly absorbed his parents’ anti-immigration stance. Michael’s and Mina’s attraction to each other causes both to ask questions about what they really stand for.
'When Michael Met Mina is a love story, but its sharply observed politics and compelling characters make for a far more complex tale than familiar boy-meets-girl storylines. Abdel-Fattah also teases out the complexities of family life, and of friendships old and new, delivering an intricate depiction of both characters and politics that resonates with the current state of affairs in Australia.
'Randa chatted with Stella Schools Program intern Sarah Farquharson about her doctoral research into Islamophobia, how her job as a writer is to make her characters uncomfortable, and why she hopes that young readers will learn to recognise and challenge the everyday, systemic racism all around us.' (Introduction)