I flew through this adorkable story of first loves, politics, and two teens finding their voices.
Standing up for what you believe in is actually super…hard. And being gaslit or diminished for your emotions and passions as a teen happens a lot, so it was nice to read a book that addressed that. It definitely has a big political angle, but it also wove the story around being awkward, having loud and loving families, first loves, and the heartache of friendship breakups. Plus there’s super fun banter and dialogue — which is what I always expect from an Albertalli novel! This is also co-written by Aisha Saeed who I need to read more from, though I have read her book Written In the Stars.
So just how political is it?
I was a bit nervous going in because, okay first of all: I’m Australian and our politics aren’t remotely like the US ones. 😂 But I wanted to read this because of love for the authors — aaaand look, so, I liked the characters and the dialogue! I loved the teens’ passion about politics, but the explanation about canvassing and and bills and legislations sort of lost me. And it did feel a little preachy at times. (“If you’re not doing everything you can to stop bad politicians then you’re a bad person too!” is not my favourite take.)
Plus I do feel sad for the authors, because obviously this book is to motivate teens to be proactive for the 2020 US elections…and instead we get COVID-19 and everyone stays indoors. But the relevance of being aware of what’s happening in the world is still a good point.
“No one person can fix it all,” my father says. “All our actions are little drops that collect into a groundswell for change. It’s the only way most change happens. Ordinary people doing everything they can. You’re doing that, Maya. I’m so proud of you.”
Buuuut…let’s talk about the characters who really make the book for me!
Oh they are LOVELY. We have two genuinely lovely people here: Jamie Goldberg and Maya Rehman. Jamie’s a total marshmallow who folds if you poke him, and Maya knows a bit more how to stand up for her beliefs and ideals. But they’re both really gentle and kind people. They get volunteered to go door-knocking (aka canvassing) by their mums, and their long-forgotten childhood friendship is renewed too. But they’re 17 and awkward and both going through a lot soooo…it takes a while for them to realise they actually need this friendship.
- Maya: I loved her so much! She’s Muslim and the book starts off while Ramadan is on, so I humbly appreciated learning more about that. She’s kind of reserved and has the One Best Friend (Sara) who is leaving for college soon, so the longing and heartache there is intense. Plus her parents are having a trial-separation and Maya is super distraught. It takes her a bit to open up to Jamie, but then they fall into this easy friendship where they both fill this hole they have in their life for close friendship.
- Jamie: he is like the ultra soft Hufflepuff of awkwardness. He’s like bordering on social anxiety but I got the feeling the book didn’t want to rep that so just made it “adorkable awkwardness”. Jamie is so so loveable. He has a super affectionate and caring relationship with his exuberant little sister, and he gets really passionate about politics and helping people, even though talking to crowds makes him want to vomit. He’s also Jewish and there’s also a lot of Jewish culture here too!
And then they both proceed not to confess they like each other the entire book!! So cute!
It had all the good contemporary moments too.
Lots of eating out (once Ramadan finished!) and they gushed over chocolate cake. The soft ease of their friendship was so lovely and made my heart ache. I loved the family moments! The banter, the quips, every time Sophie was just way over the top. (Sophie is the BEST.) The friendship breakup that Maya went through with Sara hit me deeply too. And there were just so many satisfying little subplots, it was easy to be invested in their lives. And despite the page count, I sped through reading it!
This is definitely one to try if you like contemporaries with a thoughtful and political edge.
I loved that it also focused on super sweet moments and messily awkward teens who are learning how to use their voices and make a difference. Even if it’s just a drop in the sea; it matters. You matter. (And racist trolls and politicians CAN be stopped.)
Thanks to Simon & Schuster for the ARC! Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli & Aisha Saeed is out now!
Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state candidate – as long as he’s behind the scenes. 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 cancelled, her parents are separating and now her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing – with some awkward guy she hardly knows …
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 crush of the century is another thing entirely.
do you read many books with political angles (i really liked Red White & Royal Blue!) and have you read/liked any other books by these authors? 🤗