REVIEW: 'Yes No Maybe So' by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed Was Very Interesting But I Expected More
Hello Fellow Readerholics,
Last week, I finished ‘Yes No Maybe So’ by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed and I’m now finally getting around to reviewing it. As you know, I’m posting more this week because it is my weird ‘blog birthday’ celebration week (and because I need to catch up on my reviews, lol). Let’s get into it!
Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state senate candidate—as long as he’s behind the scenes. When it comes to speaking to strangers (or, let’s face it, speaking at all to almost anyone), Jamie’s a choke artist. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya.
Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is canceled, and now her parents are separating. Why her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing—with some awkward dude she hardly knows—is beyond her.
Going door to door isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer—and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural romance of the century is another thing entirely.
First of all, I just have to ask. Is knocking on people’s doors to get them to vote a real thing in America? Is this something people regularly do? It doesn’t happen in Australia (I don’t think). If this is a thing that people actually do, kudos to them. I would never be able knock on strangers doors to talk to them about an election. Good for you, Jamie and Maya!
Now that we have my confusion out of the way, we can get into a proper review. I actually really enjoyed this book which isn’t much of a surprise because I enjoy a lot of contemporary romantic (ish) books and Becky Albertalli just happens to be an author I’m pretty fond of. I haven’t read any of Aisha Saeed’s work (until now, obviously) but it’s definitely something I’m interested in. This book had a lot of great representation in it and I honestly think that it could get young people talking about politics more which is probably something we should do.
I will admit this book didn’t have the impact on me I was hoping it would. It is heavily focussed on American politics and as an Australian, I just felt a bit out of the loop. This of course is fine, but I felt like it was written with American readers in mind who already understand the gist of it all. I also felt like this book was maybe a little too long as I did find myself losing interest in some parts of the book. I was happy to read about politics but 400+ pages is a little overkill.
I really admired the representation in this book and the issues it tackled in regards to people of colour, racism in general and religious identity. For context, Maya is a Pakistani-American, Muslim girl. Jamie is a Jewish American. The book tackles big issues surrounding our main character’s identities and they both have to face their share of hate. Maya is subject to some racism regarding her Pakistani heritage and also faces discrimination against her religion. Maya also struggles with the conflict of her religion and her developing feelings for Jamie and the way it was handled made me a little uncomfortable. In the book, Maya always stated that she wasn’t interested in dating and wasn’t allowed to have a boyfriend and I didn’t like how Maya just kind of dropped some of her core values to pursue Jamie. I just didn’t find it all that realistic. That being said, I really don’t think I’m the person to ask about any of this but I did read some reviews on GoodReads saying the same stuff.
Another thing that I feel wasn’t addressed was the whole situation with Gabe and when he posted an image on Instagram of what appeared to be Jamie and Maya kissing. Again, for context, Jamie is Gabe’s cousin (I think, I could be wrong). Gabe was someone whose main intention was to ‘go viral’ with the hope it would boost votes for their election. He noticed that people were ‘shipping’ Jamie and Maya on the political group’s instagram so he posted a photo of what looked like them kissing. I hated this for a number of reasons. I disliked how it was never really addressed that he had just posted a photo of them without their consent, all he really got was a slap on the wrist. I also found it really creepy that a man old enough to know better was posting a picture of two teenagers kissing (they technically weren’t kissing but who cares) on a very public instagram account. Especially because Maya was very clear about how she felt in regards to her religion and dating and for Gabe to do that was just unacceptable.
All in all though, I did like their relationship quite a lot. I really appreciated their friendship and their dedication to one another although I would almost prefer it if they just stayed friends. I still wasn’t mad about their actual relationship though. It was cute and breezy and everything that a YA contemporary romance should be. I also really liked both characters individually and I felt they had strong personalities without their romantic counterparts.
Overall, this was a cute contemporary that tackled some serious issues but it also missed some good opportunities. I’m rating it a 3.3/5.
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