The Lines We Cross

When Michael sees Mina, it's love at first sight. Unfortunately, they're on opposite sides of an immigration protest at the time. Michael is with his father, the founder of an anti-immigration, anti-Muslim group called Aussie Values. Mina, who escaped Afghanistan with her mother, is holding a sign that says "It's Not Illegal to Seek Asylum." The next day, Michael sees her again, because Mina has moved to the North Shore of Sydney to attend 11th grade at the same private school he does. Though they clash in their first shared class and argue each time they see each other, a crush develops as they spend more time together, confusing both of them. Their arguments inspire Michael to question his family's beliefs, but Mina remains protective of her family and hesitant to trust him. Although their conversations are serious, a healthy dose of humor and their cautious romance brings both Michael and Mina to life. "Can you actually die of a brain aneurysm through overanalyzing whether your date is, in fact, a date?" asks Mina, and Michael is equally unsure.

In alternating chapters, Australian author Abdel-Fattah (Does My Head Look Big in This?; Ten Things I Hate About Me) provides two thoughtful points of view, avoiding cliché or easy answers. As Mina relives flashbacks from her arduous journey to Australia and Michael confronts his parents, Abdel-Fattah's writing brings their struggles to life with compassion. Teen readers will learn from Mina and Michael's experiences even as they swoon over the sweet love story at the book's heart. --Stephanie Anderson, assistant director for public services, Darien Library (Conn.)

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