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“
Let’s talk about this little book, Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed! It’s a young adult contemporary romance so it’s right up my alley. Who is their right mind could so no to a light-hearted cute romance with a dash of politics? You’ve guessed it, not me. As you already know I like to keep it 100% with you all so I’m not going to shy away from telling you that I was on the fence (I can think of so many political jokes and puns but I shall spare you!) about buying this book. On one hand, the blurb really did entice me, pulling me in with the all that talk about canvassing to get people to vote; something that is very near and dear to my heart and well the cover is super cute too. On the other hand, I could not help but think that I might not like this book because if I can be so frank – this story is advertised as a romance between a brown Muslim girl and a white Jewish boy.
To be clear there is nothing wrong with each individual nor is there anything wrong with them being together, I just think as a Muslim woman I’m sick of the trope of Muslim girls falling in love with white men continuously being portrayed in the media and books. It’s getting a tad old and it’s a little overplayed. We want representation, of course, we do but it is tiring to be always paired with a white man whom you end up giving up your principles and morals for. There is so much that I want to say and I want to divulge much deeper into this topic but we won’t do that today. Let’s get back to the book shall we? I just want to add that Maya’s perspective is written by Aisha Saeed who is a Pakistani Muslim so I can kind of forgive the fact that it went down this route… not because I automatically think it is okay if we write about this trope ourselves but because of the internal conflict and questioning that was portrayed by the author, I don’t think it was enough but it was there and it made it all that more real.
I really like stories with alternate perspectives as it allows you to get inside the head of each character just that little bit more than you usually can. It’s fun to see the main characters through each other’s eyes but it also opens up and gives us a better insight into their surroundings. Both characters are very relatable in their own ways. You’ve got Jamie who is shy and socially awkward and Maya who is more calm and confident. They are so different each with very different goals for their summer but they seem to bring out the best in each other as time passes and it is really nice to watch their relationship blossom.
I love the dynamics of each family, yes one is more vibrant and likeable than the other but they each have an important story to tell of their own. I found it quite refreshing that both families were not portrayed as your typical all American family. Jamie lives with his mum, grandma and sister and then you’ve got Maya, who is struggling to come to terms and adjust with her parents’ separation. Everything about these characters is so down to earth and relatable it very much makes it seem as though they are real teenagers that you could meet at school. I won’t lie my favourite character is definitely Jamie’s Gran and I’m guessing she’ll be your favourite too once you read this book!
Now onto the good stuff! I loved the strong political storyline about the election campaign and canvassing which takes a turn to youth activism so to speak. I personally think that it was beautifully written in a manner that is easy to digest even for those who don’t like politics. Honestly, I wanted to go out canvassing with Jamie and Maya even if it meant third-wheeling. The story made politics approachable and fun and that’s how it should be accessible to all. They even touched on some very important and relevant issues such as antisemitism and islamophobia. These are issues young people should be aware of and informed on even if they aren’t of voting age just yet. It’s very uplifting and makes you want to be involved in your own local community because there is an underlying message that anyone can make a difference be it big or small.
This book is heartwarming and it’s also funny and cute. I found myself smiling like an idiot several times. It’s a very enjoyable summer read. The romance is there but it’s not overbearing. I thoroughly enjoyed the political subplot I think there was so much going on that at times they just missed the mark and honestly, the ending felt a little rushed to me. There was also a point where I was getting pretty frustrated at some of the characters but hey nobody is perfect right? I think that is why I’m going to give this book a score of 3.5/5. I will however be buying books by both Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed in the near future as I enjoyed their writing and I would love to read their individual works and see how they differ from this collaboration.