Our school has just be granted the status of School of Sanctuary and a part of this, and working with other schools in our trust, we held a Culture Week with our students. In the library, as a part of this, we put up a selection of books that linked to this due to them being on the topic of refugees or sanctuary seekers. This book was one of those titles that was on a list of books that were suggested we buy.
I had picked up another book ‘As Brave as You’ and was taking part in a challenge with one of the students as to who could read it fastest while still understanding what was going on but we both disliked that book and we moved on, this was the book that he chose for me to read next in our challenges so that is what I did.
It took me a few days of readng to complete this book as I was not constantly buried in it as I had been with other books previously but it was certainly a vast improvement upon the book that I had been reading before that. I feel that people should read this if they are wanting to read a fiction book that covers the current political situation in Australia, particularly for teenagers who are wanting to learn more on this subject as it is written in a way that is best suited for that age group in terms of relate-ability. Some of the topics that are covered, and the occasional swearword used within the book means that it is only allowed out to students who are older than 14 so that we do not offend or disturb any of the younger year groups.
This book tells you of the Muslim refugee camps that were set up in Australia and surrounding the politics of this from both sides through the eyes of teenagers. My first thought as I was reading it was that it is very much a retelling of Romeo and Juliet or Daz 4 Zoe with the idea being that two teenagers have fallen in love but are stuck on opposite sides of the divide. In this case, Mina being a Muslim who arrived in Australia on a boat, and Michael whose Dad is the founder of Aussie Values.
The story of the teenagers seemed more of a backstory in relation to the overall political messages that were going on, but I do not think that it suffered for it as it was a cliche, but functioning, way of sharing these kinds of views so that you can show both sides easily. There are backstories provided for characters but there is very little, noticeable, character growth in anyone except for Michael as he grows to form his own opinions that aren’t necessarily what his parents have raised him to believe in.
Below is my favourite quote from the book because I find it really easy to relate to Nathan, the speaker, in the facts of taking things quite literally and stating facts without any thought of how a simple fact may make somebody feel badly.
“Everybody dies,” Nathan helpfully offers. “I don’t want Dad to die. Or you. Or Michael. Or me, although I’d rather you die first because you’ve lived longer and it’s only fair. But you will die, you know. You could kiss me good night tonight and die in your sleep and Dad could be alive and okay in Baghdad as bombs detonate around him.” He shrugs as though Mum is an idiot for not working out something so logical.
4 out of 5 stars
Accelerated Reader Information
Interest Level: UY
Quiz Number: 233305