Title: The Lines We Cross
Author: Randa Abdel-Fattah
Published: May 4th 2017
Michael is drawn to his new classmate Mina, but they’re on opposite sides of an issue that’s tearing their town apart. His parents are part of an anti-immigration group, while her family have fled their besieged home in Afghanistan. As tensions rise, lines are drawn and both must decide what they want their world to look like, no matter the cost.
“Do you ever stop becoming a refugee? Even if at some point in your life the place of refuge becomes home?”
At the time of an international refugee crisis, The Lines We Cross is an important novel. The most striking thing about the book is that it is told in dual narrative. You get to hear the two conflicting sides of the same story, and this was particularly appealing because too often we are only subjected to one or the other, particularly when it comes to mainstream media.
The characters were largely complex, in turn making them realistic. My initial impression of Mina was the stereotypical ‘quiet Muslim girl’ but I could not have been more wrong. I adored her character; her sarcastic comments added a touch of humour to what can only be described as a highly political novel. Not to mention, her friendship with Paula was everything.
Michael’s character was, of course, much more complex than Mina’s. Michael’s parents are the founders of the anti-immigrant group, Aussie Values, and Michael begins to doubt their political beliefs when he meets Mina, an immigrant. Though he isn’t particularly likeable at the beginning, his character development is commendable, especially when he stands up to not only his parents but one of his best friends. Michael is a character whose ignorance stems from his privilege, but through his relationship with Mina he allows himself to become educated.
I wasn’t particularly keen on the love-at-first-sight romance and the ending did feel slightly rushed and inconclusive but, aside from those aspects, this was such an enjoyable read. It tackles many other important issues on top of the refugee debate, such as casual racism and Islamophobia. It also explores the dynamics of family, friendship and community and most importantly offers hope to its readers. Whilst Michael and Mina may be fictional, their stories are most definitely not.