The Lines We Cross is a thought-provoking novel with an important message that resonates with the political climate of today. Our two protagonists are as different from each other as night and day. Michael is the son of two avid anti-immigration activists who believe immigrants should completely assimilate into the Australian culture. Mina is a refugee from Afghanistan whose life is starting to look just a bit brighter…until she has to move to an upper middle class neighborhood to Michael’s private school and ends up clashing with Michael’s parents’ group, Aussie Values.
What I Liked:
I absolutely loved Mina’s character! She was intelligent, sarcastic, and sassy…basically everything I could ever want in a main character. In the beginning of the novel, Mina feels like a fish-out-of-water. She has moved from her multicultural neighborhood in West Sydney to attend a prestigious private high school. Her growth over the course of the novel from insecure new student to confident young woman was endearing. I also absolutely loved her family. I was glad to see Mina’s stepfather depicted as endearing and a doting husband and father.
I also loved the moment when Michael began thinking for himself and stopped regurgitating the things his parents and Terrance told him to. Michael, as a character, I kept going back and forth about liking. I wish he had started thinking for himself and questioning his parents’ values before he met Mina. While she did serve as the catalyst for his change, it seems that he ONLY changed just to impress her.
The setting of Australia was different and refreshing to me. I personally can’t recall reading a YA contemporary novel not set in the States or the UK. It was a nice change and I enjoyed learning about Australian culture. Personally, I didn’t think about the fact Australians go through a lot of what we go through here in the United States, such as a tense political climate.
The writing was superb and kept me transfixed. I couldn’t put the book down except to go to work and to sleep. I loved Fattah’s prose.
Also, Paula and Mina are 100% BFF goals.
What I Didn’t Like (and it Worked):
Ugh. Michael’s parents and their friends disgusted me. They were so condescending and patronizing. My problem with them was that their brand of racism is the type where they believe what they’re doing is right for those “inferior” to them. Every time they spoke, it just ground my gears. I also wasn’t too fond of their treatment of Michael’s younger brother who is definitely coded as being autistic thought it is never mentioned. What REALLY made me mad was when reading about how their mother told her child who takes everything literally to “Get out of her way” and the poor boy ended up having to be brought to her by the police because he thought she meant her words. It’s treated as a cute memory but I was kind of disturbed. It only made me dislike Michael’s parents a lot more.
I loved this book immensely and it is definitely a novel we need in today’s world. It teaches us to have compassion to those who may not look like us. I laughed, I cried, and I laughed some more. I highly recommend it to everyone, especially people who want to view life through another’s eyes.