Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed

IMG-5673”We might give it our all and crash and burn. But we might win. We might actually change things. And that maybe makes it still worth going for, don’t you think?”

Jaime has been spending his summer helping his cousin with campaigning in time for a special election. When his mother encourages him to go canvassing, he can’t think of anything worse. However, Jaime has always wanted to be a politician and decides there is no time like the present to conquer his fear of speaking to the public. 

Maya is a Pakistani-American Muslim girl who is having the worst summer of her life. Her parents are going through a separation, she has zero plans for the summer to help take her mind off things and her only close friend is permanently busy. To help occupy her, her parents offer to buy her a car if she agrees to go canvassing. 

The pair could possibly be the worst canvassing duo in history, as neither of them really want to be there, but as the campaign goes on they discover that they care, a lot, about the election – and maybe even about each other?

I went into this expecting a sweet, summer romance, but was given so much more! ”Yes No Maybe So” is so frighteningly relevant to today’s reader and sits perfectly with a young adult audience. The novel highlights the terrible injustice of the voting system in the US where the voting age is 18; this means that young people have no say in the rules and laws that can directly affect them. In recent years, there has been surge of young people becoming engaged in politics across the world who are wanting create a better future for themselves and generations to follow, even if they’re not old enough to vote themselves. I found this particularly relatable as my 14 year old sister came campaigning with me in our last election and became very passionate about politics. I loved how this story challenged the notion that it isn’t cool to care about politics. What could possibly be uncool about caring about your future?

I loved watching these two characters grow throughout the novel, particularly Maya. She goes from not caring at all about the candidate or election to fighting passionately for the cause. It’s beautiful watching her political awakening and seeing her grow into a confident young woman. This is initiated by the opposing candidate introducing a law that directly attacks/affects Muslims. I found this will resonate with both US and UK readers as both countries have leaders who have directly attacked multiple races and religions. I found it so sad that people have to hear such hateful rhetoric from the very people who are meant to lead and protect them and this story tackles it so well. The writers show the hurt and fear this provokes and shows it from the point of view of the victim. It also highlights the tensions and divisions in the US which seemed to have developed more over the past 5 years. Again, I think this will resonate well with readers from all over the world but particularly with the US and the UK. Being from the UK I found it extremely relatable and incredibly sad that countries end up this way and, with Brexit still very much an issue, it doesn’t offer much resolve. 

This story isn’t just about politics so if you’re not too interested in that then please do not be put off. It is a wonderful exploration of finding your way and place in the world, as a teenager, and how difficult that can be. The development of romance between these two characters is soft, sweet and subtle and I loved watching them get closer to each other as the story went on. They both learn so much from each other and grow so much in the short time they spend together. I love slow burning romances and this one is no exception. It also looks at the effects separation can have on children at any age and the writers depict this really well. 

I found the characterisation was brilliant in this book and really engaged and connected with Jaime and Maya. I really got to know them and felt I knew them as people to the point where I knew exactly how they would react in certain situations. For this reason, I really, really cared about them and the campaign and found myself extremely excited to pick the book up again after each break. The writing style is very relaxed and familiar, making the novel an easy, fluid read. As a white, non-religious woman from the UK, my opinion isn’t particularly accurate, but I found the way the writers depicted Maya, her culture and religion to be relatable and realistic. 

My only criticism of this story is that it sometimes felt a little slow and there were some parts where I wanted it to just pick up a little – although this did compliment the romance development.

Overall, this is a beautiful, cross-cultural, diverse love story that will warm even the coldest of hearts. I highly recommend this book to the young adult audience and even to adult. I believe it has a lot to say on the current political climate while still being a lovely, fun story of two teenagers falling in love over the summer break. I truly hope this book inspires other young people to engage in their future while also helping them understand the issues they have to face as teenagers. Definitely one for the bookshelf!

*4 stars*

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