Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed
From Goodreads: YES
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.
Hey everyone, hope you’re all doing okay 😀
Today’s review is for this glorious book. Thanks so much to Simon and Schuster for sending me an ebook copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The premise of this book is something I really haven’t seen before in YA. Yes, there are books about making changes and protesting. Moxie Girl is a great example, since it’s about girls protesting the sexist school uniform regulations at their school. But the political changes stuff is something I’ve honestly never come across before. It sounds weird to say that, especially since I know a lot of authors and readers were furious when Donald Trump was elected in the U.S. but I’ve never seen it come across in this way in a book before.
Yes, I know this sounds weirdly vague, but I was thrilled about the theme of Yes No Maybe So. And a little hesitant too. I’ll admit that, as much as I wanted a book like this, I was concerned that the narrative of people campaigning and going door to door to canvass, might in some ways be a bit too optimistic. I know, I know, but hear me out. My problem is that while I’m not one of those people that refuses to vote because ‘my vote doesn’t matter’ [It does, it absolutely does] I’m also not massively keen on the idea of suggesting that by working really hard and being incredibly enthusiastic, you can change the course of an election. So I guess what I’m trying to say in a super roundabout way, is that I didn’t want the book to sugar coat the reality of voting, especially since many YA readers aren’t yet old enough to vote, or are just turning eighteen, and I don’t like the idea that some people might read something like this and then get upset or discouraged with themselves and their own efforts when things don’t go their way. Thankfully, I think this book did an incredible job of handling this potential issue and there are definitely moments when reality hits quite hard. There’s people shutting doors on the main characters, refusing to change their minds, and a whole load of other stuff that I won’t get into because this review is spoiler free. I will say that I was also pleasantly surprised by the way the election process is handled too. There’s a lot of useful information woven into this book, and I think anyone who is interested in seeing a behind the scenes type thing of politics will be pleasantly surprised by how well it’s done.
The main characters are, as always with Becky’s books, very likeable and relatable. I don’t know how the work was divided between Becky and Aisha. I don’t know if they both wrote a character, or alternated in some way or something, but it’s very seamlessly done and both characters are nuanced. Maya’s chapters were possibly my favourite, just because she’s a complex character and she’s really intelligent and just feels very real. Jamie’s sweet and funny, and I liked his determination and his slight naivety about the world. Again, it felt very natural and he came across as a well developed character.
I do think there were moments when the pacing dragged just a touch. The middle went on for quite a while and I struggled with some of the romantic storyline. There was a lot of back and forth uncertainty and it felt a bit pointless. I mean, again, no spoilers but it was a YA book so it was quite obvious how the romance would develop as the story progressed. I will say I liked that there was some discussion about why it was difficult in places, rather than it just being two very uncertain teenagers wondering if their crush liked them back, but since most of the story is that back and forth stuff, it wasn’t amazing for me because it was predictable. Saying that, I still made the appropriate tea kettle noises when the two of them finally admitted their feelings.
Overall, I’d give Yes No Maybe So a 9/10 stars. I thought the election campaigning theme was something I’ve never come across in YA before, and it was handled very well and left me feeling educated about how voting works in the US. The romance was a touch predictable, but I’ll give it a pass since it’s a YA novel and it’s usually pretty easy to figure out how these things go in them. The characters were really well developed and I enjoyed their interactions and reading more about them as the story progressed.
Has anyone else read this book already or plans to? What do you all think of it? Let me know in the comment section down below ❤