Happy Ramadan to everyone celebrating! I’d been meaning to read Yes No Maybe So for weeks, so it seemed good timing to read a book set during Ramadan… during Ramadan. Literally the only things I knew going in was when it was set; that it was well received and co written by Becky Albertalli. Which is enough for me!
Name: Yes No Maybe So
Authors: Aisha Saeed and Becky Albertalli
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.
Blurb and image from Goodreads
I’m English. And I think that’s a factor I should have considered more before I read a YA book about teens canvassing for an American election. Which is certainly a unique premise for a rom-com. As you’d expect, there’s quite a bit on the American electoral system (and Target) that I don’t really understand. The politics both interested me and bored me because I don’t fully know how American politics works. It was quite funny how anti-Trump the book was (I loved it) but if you prefer your books to be more neutral then that’s a factor to consider.
“But I’m not talking about the world righting itself. I’m talking about us righting the world.”
– Yes No Maybe So
It was nice that the boy was the klutz for once, but Jamie was the male embodiment of Bella Swan. Unconfident and shy, I could see a very obvious character development for someone who wanted to become president – and had to give a big speech at the end of the book. But the story dragged out for so long that the development wasn’t that concise. Three hundred pages in, the canvassing felt repetitive and I wasn’t entirely sure what had happened to fill that many pages. However, the end quarter (it’s pretty long for a contemporary!) went off-piste and wasn’t as predictable, which I enjoyed.
Also, I found it strange that the font and chapter formatting was exactly the same as Becky Albertalli’s other co written book, What if It’s Us. You can find my review here. That collab is one of my favourite books of all time, so I was playing the dangerous game of comparing the Yes No Maybe So to it. One of the reasons my rating dropped was because Yes No Maybe So just wasn’t as good as I thought it would be – it’s also aimed at a younger audience than What if It’s Us.
“It’s ridiculous. Women are problematic if they show too much skin and problematic if they don’t show enough?”
– My favourite quote
I loved the activism in Yes No Maybe So. Despite the fact I was rooting for the side characters more than Maya and Jamie, it had a strong, political message and here was decent queer representation that I thought was well handled. I’ve seen some reviews criticising Maya’s character – it’s not my place to comment, but they said said that she fell under the trope of Muslim women having to step away from their faith to date white men.
To sum up, Yes No Maybe So is an easy read with a strong message. Despite its considerable size, I barely noticed how fast I was getting through it and it’s a pretty funny book. The cover is adorable too! It felt so obvious what would happen that some of the canvassing could have been cut, but I liked that the ending wasn’t what I expected. Yes No Maybe So tackled more serious issues than I’d first expected in a really well- thought out way and I’m encouraged to try some of Aisha Saeed’s other books – if you have any recommendations, let me know in the comments!