Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed
Release date: February 4, 2020
An e-galley was provided by HarperCollins via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
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.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Aisha Saeed has not disappointed me yet, and this co-authored book with Becky Albertalli was just as good, if a bit lighter than Aisha's normal stories.
The premise of Yes No Maybe So is that there's a special election happening in July for a Georgia state senate seat. Jamie and Maya get thrown together to canvass, and that's how their relationship grows. There are second-hand embarrassment moments that are typical of an Albertalli book, but there's also a lot of great cultural exploration (Jamie is very clueless about fasting for Ramadan, even with his knowledge about fasting for Yom Kippur) and also political activism in a teen-friendly way. Because that's the thing; a lot of today's teens are very attune to politics and have opinions and want to make a difference. Jamie, however, does not want to make a difference in such a public way; public speaking of any type terrifies him. So that provides another area of character growth. Maya, on the other hand, feels lonely and has friendship plots - both with Jamie and her longtime friend Sara, who she's drifting away from - AND her parents are divorcing. Girl has a whole lot going on.
I never quite warmed to Jamie's voice (though I loved his mom, grandmother, and little sister), but I was definitely here for Maya's struggles and triumphs. When politics become personal, she really shines and starts to become a dynamic character. I expected a romance between them, of course, and it kind of worked, but I also wasn't 100% onboard with it. I liked their chemistry as friends and a canvassing team better.
Content warnings: anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, foul language
The Verdict: Good but not ground-breakingly amazing. Worth the read though!
Will I be adding this book to my library?: Yes
No Maybe So