I’m so excited to be part of the blog tour for the excellent When Michael Met Mina.
For my non-Australian readers, here are a few things you need to know about Australian politics:
- At time of writing, we still don’t have a new Prime Minister (because everyone hates politicians and we can’t decide which ones we hate the most)
- The issue of asylum seekers is one of the most divisive and topical in our political landscape
- When Michael Met Mina takes these political issues, brings in two characters from opposite ends of the spectrum, and throws them together
When Michael Met Mina reads at the younger end of YA, but is no less compelling for it.
There are a lot of things here that need to be said. There are views on multi-culturalism, immigration, the seeking of asylum and racism. Australia has a huge problem with racism still (I mean, we were founded on racism) and it’s not often that you find a book that confronts that.
I guess the only real problem is that the people reading this book are not the ones who need its message.
In essence I think there’s this sort of echo chamber surrounding this book – like a preaching to the converted. I’ve spent a good amount of time in the Aussie YA community and it is honestly the most empathetic, generous and thoughtful community I’ve ever been a part of. The messages are important – they’re just being sent to the people who are already getting the message.
That said, I still think it’s an incredibly important book.
In one of my university classes – Citizenship and Communication – we talked a lot about protesting and civil disobedience. Something that came up a great deal was this idea of cultural protest – not through waving signs or going to rallies, but creating art that tries to send a message.
The incredible things about political novels is that the stories are humanised for audiences.
And Michael and Mina are really great characters. Michael, for instance, undergoes a HUGE amount of character development. His whole life he’s basically never questioned his family’s beliefs. But Mina forces to question himself. I admire Michael a great deal because it takes a lot of courage to question the ideals and the beliefs that you were raised with. The Aussie Values party made me INCREDIBLY angry and I think he does pretty well with his family.
Overall, a really insightful read about politics, racism and the importance of spreading love, not hate.
We definitely need more of that.
Rating: 4/5 Wonderkitties
Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour!
When Michael meets Mina, they are at a rally for refugees – standing on opposite sides.
Mina fled Afghanistan with her mother via a refugee camp, a leaky boat and a detention centre.
Michael’s parents have founded a new political party called Aussie Values.
They want to stop the boats.
Mina wants to stop the hate.
When Mina wins a scholarship to Michael’s private school, their lives crash together blindingly.
What do you think about these Big Issues in YA? Do you think they overwhelm the story, or that they’re a great way to spark a discussion? Or maybe both?