The synopsis of Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed that is available on Goodreads:
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 maybeit’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.
At its core, Yes No Maybe So is about family, friendship, religion and understanding your place, your voice, in the world. I don’t know what I was expecting out of this book exactly, but it definitely surpassed those expectations. I honestly assumed that this book would be extremely fluffy with little ‘conflict’, so to speak. However, it was so much more than that.
This book does have those aspects, but it really explores religious discrimination and racism, especially that of Antisemitism and Islamophobia. Though the setting of this book is in the United States of America, I still think it will remain truthful to the experience of many individuals in religious minorities across the world. I think this book comes at a pretty important time, discussing the importance of finding your voice on a personal note but also in terms of political voice and communal change.
The two main characters, Jamie and Maya were quite well-developed, and I enjoyed reading about each of their journeys. Jamie is adorable, and I really connected to his personality. I would consider Jamie as a socially awkward person who struggles with anxiety in social situations. His relationships with his mum and grandmother were beautiful and as well as his relationship with his sister, Sophie. Jamie is Jewish and although I myself am not Jewish and cannot comment on the representation, it was written quite well. Jamie’s character showcased the everyday forms of antisemitism.
Maya is also quite an interesting character and her family life is on the opposite end in comparison to Jamie’s. My one point of contention with Maya was that I found her to be a complainer. She would constantly make everything about herself and she always seemed to whine about the smallest issues. I connected more to Jamie’s character than to Maya’s as I felt that she was immature and childish at times which I was incredibly saddened to feel. Though the micro aggression and all-out in-your-face type of Islamophobia was incredibly confronting and how she was portrayed to deal with that was amazing – she was badass in that respect. She was also incredibly proud of her culture her identity which I adored reading about but again, her characterisation was not a character that I was able to enjoy reading, if that makes sense.
However, I felt that her character was not able to fully reach her potential. She was bogged down by a conflict with her best friend which I found to be annoying and quite frustrating which slightly disconnected me with the overall story. I couldn’t really be bothered reading about it, it reminded me so much of the conflict between the two best friends in Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy.
Although, I did enjoy the natural progression of Maya and Jamie’s relationship and I adore the friends-to-lovers trope in YA so I thoroughly enjoyed that aspect of the novel.
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I am a devourer of books and lover of fictional worlds, a full-time research student of gender and sexuality in education.