“I know two things for a fact.
My parents are good people.
And ever since I can remember, they’ve been angry about almost everything.”
-Randa Abdel-Fattah, The Lines we Cross
Hey guys! The amazing people at Scholastic recently sent me a copy of The Lines we Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah and woah. Just woah. I loved this book even more than I thought I would!
The Lines we Cross is a YA contemporary standalone that’s set in Australia and shifts between the POVs of Mina and Michael. Michael’s parents are the leaders of an anti-immigration group that’s gaining momentum in their town, while Mina and her family have fled from their besieged home in Afghanistan, some years ago now. The novel opens upon Mina, a gifted student, receiving a scholarship to a good school, that requires her family moving across town so that she can attend. It also happens to be the same school that Michael goes to. And although neither of them were prepared for the chemistry that they feel for each other, the rising tensions in their town is affecting them all, forcing them to make decisions on what’s most important in their lives.
This is the first contemporary set in Australia that I’ve read (to my knowledge), which I immediately noticed and found strange- I must read more of them! Because of this, I really enjoyed the setting and found it interesting to read about. I also loved the characters. I thought Mina was great-a really strong character that’s not afraid to voice her opinions and be heard. I loved reading more about her and her experience and her culture, as well as how funny she was at times. Michael was also written really well; at the beginning of the novel, he is mindlessly parroting his parents’ beliefs and holds the opinion that because his parents are good people, their ideas are good. Unfortunately, as we all know, this is often not the case. As the book progresses, Michael’s character takes on the biggest evolution out of all of them as he begins to challenge what he’s been taught and come to his own decisions. In a way, this reflects the maturing of teenagers as they start to think for themselves, but it pairs nicely with the act of confronting prejudice and institutionalised racism. Mina, of course, faces the biggest challenges here as the prejudice is invariably targeted at her and her family. She has strong morals and instinctively does everything she can to protect herself and her family. Reading about her starting a new school and seeing how some of her classmates treat her was heartbreaking and makes you admire her even more.
There is a full cast of good secondary characters in The Lines we Cross as well, and I particularly loved the dynamics between Mina and her old and new girlfriends. It’s always refreshing to see great female friendships in books and Mina and her friends were a joy to read about.
I absolutely adored this book and definitely recommend it to all fans of YA contemporaries. It is moving and funny and heartwarming all at once. Parts of it read like a fun book I’d take to the beach, while other parts dealt with serious issues in a thoughtful way. 5/5 stars and I’m excited to check out other books from this author!
Has anyone else read this? What did you think? And can you recommend me any other good contemporaries set in Australia?