- Title: Yes No Maybe So
- Author: Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed
- Publisher: Balzer + Bray
- Release Date: 2/4/20
- Genre: Fiction
- Age Range: Young Adult
- Trigger Warnings: Divorce, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism
- Rating: ★★★★
- Publisher’s Summary: YES – 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. NO – 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. MAYBE SO – 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.
I’ve read several of Becky Albertalli’s books including Simon vs. the Homosapiens Agenda, What If It’s Us, and The Upside of Unrequited. I’ve enjoyed all of her books, and I was excited to read this collaboration between her and Aisa Saaed.
With all of the focus on Georgia in the recent 2020 election, Yes No Maybe So feels particularly timely. As a young liberal Jewish candidate for Georgia State Senate, Jordan Rossum, who Maya and Jamie campaign for, reminds me a lot of Jon Ossoff. It was inspiring to see two teenagers taking the political process and their place in it so seriously.
Yes No Maybe So also addresses the serious Islamophobia that we see in this country. Maya faces bigoted people who confront her hatefully when she canvasses for Rossum. Additionally, Jamie and Maya campaign against H.B. 28, a law that would ban hijab. Jamie and Maya handle this hateful behavior with such impressive maturity. They set up a meeting with their congressman’s office and channel their energy into making sure Rossum gets elected.
The recent rise of anti-Semitism is also addressed. Someone replaces a Jordan Rossum magnet on Jamie’s car with a bumper sticker with an anti-Semitic meme. Jamie learns that this has been happening around town frequently in response to Rossum’s Judaism. Jamie, Maya, and Jamie’s grandma end up confronting the culprit and coming up with a way to reclaim the hateful meme.
Maya and Jamie’s relationship is so supportive and strong, making it no surprise as their relationship moves from platonic to romantic. Jamie is there for Maya when she faces Islamophobia and when she gets in a big fight with her friend, Sara. In turn, Maya helps Jamie conquer his fear of speaking at his sister’s bat mitzvah. It is also just adorable that they fall asleep while on the phone and watching The Office.
Yes No Maybe So alternates between Maya and Jamie’s perspectives. This really allows the reader to watch Maya and Jamie develop feelings for one another even before they realize their feelings are mutual. It is so clear that they care deeply for each other that it is hard not to root for them.
Yes No Maybe So addresses timely and important issues while also telling a sweet and compelling love story.
Food Pairing: Goldfish
One of Jamie’s friends jokes that Goldfish are the “official snack food of the Goldberg household.” It is clear that Jamie really loves them. He unwittingly offers Maya Goldfish when she is fasting during Ramadan and then later presents an array of different flavors to her as a gift for Eid. I loved that Jamie turned his gaffe into an inside joke between him and Maya.
Like Jamie, I love Goldfish, so I thought it was an appropriate pairing for this book. While Maya says that all of the flavors are “basically the same thing,” I agree with Jamie that each of them has a distinct taste.
Jamie says that his favorite type of Goldfish are the rainbow ones, and they certainly are the prettiest. My favorite recently were the Mickey Mouse Goldfish that Disney released in honor of the main mouse’s 90th birthday. Everything really does taste better when Mickey-shaped. Even Goldfish.