When Michael Met Mina Review: Stop the Boats or the Hate?

July 8, 2016 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 4 stars, Books, Reviews


When Michael Met Mina Review: Stop the Boats or the Hate?When Michael Met Mina by Randa Abdel-Fattah
Published by Pan Macmillan Australia on July 28th 2016
Source: Publisher
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Book Depository | Publisher
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Before Mina, my life was like a completed jigsaw puzzle but Mina has pushed the puzzle onto the floor. I have to start all over again, figuring out where the pieces go.
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.
A novel for anyone who wants to fight for love, and against injustice.

If there is one Aussie YA book that you will pick up, let it be When Michael Met Mina.

The way it addresses social commentary and current political issues about border control, refugees and racism has never been more important.

The hardships that refugees face when they try and start a new life away from their home country.

The racist values that people can hold, while hiding behind a front of “protecting our values” and “encouraging healthy debates”.

What some families have given up just to provide a brighter future for the next generation.

It’s easy to say these issues don’t affect you, but what the book does is present real life for so many people living in Australia today. 

All of this is written in such an engaging, relatable way, through two teenagers who have no choice but to be swept up in their family’s values. Michael, from a conversative Aussie Values political party and Mina, an Afghani teenager who stands up for her family’s rights.

when michael met mina

Michael goes through lots of character development in the story. Working in a telemarketing job, being friends with a jerk, and spouting off his dad’s values without really knowing what they meant – it’s obvious he doesn’t know who he is at the start. Meeting Mina gave him the push to not only work out who he was, but also who he wanted to be. While his character arc was a bit too forced, I loved how he came to terms with his decisions in the end and how he stood strongly by them.

Mina on the other hand, is fiesty, independent and hard working. After coming to Australia by boat from Afghanistan, she’s not afraid to show her peers how much she deserves to be there. I liked how she was outspoken about her beliefs and how she called people out for their racist/sexist comments. I know what it’s like to have the weight of high expectations placed upon you, and Mina definitely had a lot on her shoulders. I did feel like she acted a bit too mature for her age, especially with the slight PTSD she had in her past. There’s a lot more that could’ve been explored here, including the sense of not belonging, the emotion that could come with what she went through and more about Afghani culture.

When we arrived in this country we had to learn the differences of this new place and we also had to learn that for everybody, we are the difference. I think, Mina, there is something the majority wants us to do in order to be fully accepted, but they never tell us what it is.

I love forbidden romances, especially with the fresh modern take on it here. There was a bit of insta-love though – within the first few pages, Michael has already fallen for Mina even before they met. Personally I don’t think I could ever fall for someone who was so directly opposed towards my own strong beliefs and livelihood. I’m not quite sure what made Mina fall for Michael, aside from his good looks and his ambivalent character.

Despite the issues I had with Mina’s character and the insta-love at the start, the social commentary and the book’s message is thought-provoking and reflects our world today. I love the confidence it took for the author to write about these issues, and how it addressed that gray area of racism and misunderstanding. Through Michael’s indecision and Mina’s passion, I really felt a lot for their ordeals and my heart ached at what they both had to go through at times.


When Michael Met Mina is such an important book that I think everyone should read, presenting both sides to the refugee debate in Australia without being preachy. There are so many important themes that the book addresses, and it’s written in an extremely engaging and modern way.

Rating: 4 out of 5


Thanks Pan Macmillan Australia for sending me a review copy!

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Tiktok@happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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21 responses to “When Michael Met Mina Review: Stop the Boats or the Hate?

  1. fullybookedreviews

    Wonderful review! I really enjoyed how Mina called Michael out on his crap – there were so many quotes that I highlighted in the book! And it's an utterly topical, important book with a strong message.

    • Thank you lovely! Yesss it was definitely enjoyable how she didn't let him slide with some of his comments, like a lot of people would. So many important messages and topics are addressed here!

  2. sumlynnnguyen

    Thanks for sharing this review with us, Jeann! This sounds like such a refreshing story. I love books that portray modern realism accurately. Also, I love that both of the main character sound likable. And it's another Aussie YA read? I'm definitely adding it to my GRs TBR. I'll have to try to find it the next time on BD. ^.^
    My recent post Summing It Up: June 2016

    • NP Summer! I thought it was definitely an important book that was really engaging to the YA audience you know? Yesss I'm so excited you're adding it to your TBR! Good luck and enjoy 😀

    • I did, lucky it was a really quick and engaging read! I posted this right away lol it was really crunch time 😛 It was really good definitely! I was ready to give it a 5 but as I wrote the review I realised I had a few problems with the romance and characterisation.

    • Absolutely, I love how relatable it was and how it really made me think about both sides of the story you know? And all this in a really engaging way!

    • Thank you Cyn! I'm so glad that the author came out and addressed some very controversial topics that are both important and topical.

  3. I'm glad you liked it so much, Jeann! And I'm glad it tackled some of the biggest issues Australia is facing and I think it did so very articulately and grandly. :') I unfortunately ended up getting a bit overwhelmed by the political aspect versus the actual story…when basically every conversation ended in politics, I just felt it wasn't really realistic. 🙁 And I have no idea why Mina and Michael got together, tbh. Although I think Michael's character development was great!

    • Thank you Cait! I think it definitely made it interesting but yes, it was definitely VERY political heavy (which is kind of what I loved about it, but it's definitely not for everyone). Yeah, I think the relationship was pretty forced tbh, but I liked Michael's development too!

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