Romance blooming amid the chaos of politics
Have you ever volunteered for an election campaign? Are you aware of your duties as a citizen? Being a teenager, have you ever felt the need to be eligible to choose your leader? If anyone of the above categories represents you, then we recommend Becky Albertalli & Aisha Saeed’s book, Yes No Maybe So to you.
Who Are The Authors?
Yes, you read that right. Two authors, Becky Albertalli & Aisha Saeed, have teamed up for this book. We have relished these two great authors on social media for a while, and we are looking forward to reading more of their works. Becky Albertalli & Aisha Saeed are the American authors currently residing in Atlanta.
Becky Albertalli is a Jewish woman who had a simple life full of freaking-out moments. Literature has always captivated Becky’s focus. She wrote & directed a play at age 12. She fell for Harry Potter at age 16. Becky isn’t a natural activist and so is one of the main characters of this book, Jamie. Through the entire journey of writing this book, Becky has explored activism from an entirely different perspective. In one of the interviews, Becky has talked about that there are different ways to bring a change, even if it seems like the process needs a different personality type.
Aisha is a Pakistani Muslim American woman. She fell for reading at age 3 (picture books do count when it comes to reading) and never grew out of it. She has a thing for trees, be it Willows, Sycamores or Poplar Oaks. Aisha loves travelling as much as she loves her cat. Aisha is our Monica from FRIENDS who can beat anyone in air hockey. Through one of the main characters of this story, Maya, Aisha has reflected the bigotry that she has always faced being a Muslim American
I liked how authors had the fire since 2016 when Donald Trump got elected and they faced the misery. And how they decided to put up all into a book, without letting the fire inside them go away till they got this book published. The joy and vulnerability with which the authors share this story are artistic and inspiring.
So What Genre Is This?
It’s the perfect blend of cross-cultural romance and activism. Their publishers call it “a book about the power of love and resistance” and I couldn’t agree more. On one hand, you will witness a beautiful bond between Jamie & Maya. On the other hand, you will observe the significance of local activism and speaking up. These authors have made it relatable by flaunting the flaws which are usually kept hidden in other stories.
What Is The Structure Of The Book Like?
This book is organised with alternate chapters of Maya & Jamie. The authors have weaved their experiences in every chapter of this love story. This book will make you realise how awareness among citizens is necessary. This is a book where you will find cross-cultural romance intertwined with the message of social issues like racism and hijab ban.
Why Is This Book Titled “Yes No Maybe So”?
With the cover and title Yes No Maybe So, you’re likely to pick up this book thinking it’s just a love story, but it’s so much more! As I said, it’s romance blooming amid the chaos of politics. During canvassing (continue reading, you will find what it is), the characters show up the questionnaire asking for the reviews of the citizens. There are different questions including – Are you going to vote this particular candidate? and the options to this are – Yes No Maybe. And this explains the title of this book.
What Is Yes No Maybe So About?
Yes No Maybe So is a story of two 17 year-olds, Jamie & Maya. Jamie Goldberg is a Jewish guy who is all fine with volunteering for a local state senate candidate, Jordan Rossum, as long as he is behind the scenes. He is a shy and awkward kind of guy who never likes talking to strangers. Most of the time, he is stuck inside his head. He has a twelve years old sibling Sophie, very cool kiddo, who he aspires to become. Also, Jamie’s Grandma, famously known as InstaGramm, is a lovely character in this book. Jamie’s cousin, Gabe, is the campaign manager for the local state senate candidate who forces Jamie to be active in all these things going on in the city.
Maya Rehman is a Muslim girl who is having her worst time in life. Her trip for summers to Italy got cancelled, and her parents are on separate trials and her dad has already shifted to another apartment. Her best friend Sarah is too busy with her work and whenever she gives time, she never gets tired speaking of her roommate, Jeanie. All of this adds misery to her Ramadan.
Although Jamie & Maya were childhood friends, they don’t remember each other that much. They meet during an Iftar with their family. Their mom asks them to volunteer for canvassing together. Canvassing is an activity where you visit home to home, distribute flyers of the candidate, introduce the candidates promises for the city and ask them to fill the questionnaire.
Next day, Maya and Jamie show up in the campaign office and then team up for canvassing. Jamie & Maya start their first day by visiting a few houses. Some people pretend to be not at home, others don’t want to listen to them and very few of them get ready to listen to them. They enjoy the first day of canvassing, but Maya thinks that’s it. She has done what her mom asked her for but she doesn’t know life has bigger plans for her. Jamie enjoyed the feeling of getting comfortable with someone because it hardly happens.
Maya’s mom wanted Maya to get her mind diverted from all the things going on in their family so she asks her to go for canvassing the entire campaign and in reward, she promises to get a car for Maya. Maya needs a car so she agrees with her mom. She texts Jamie, who is surprised, about change in her plans & mood.
Maya & Jamie start to go for canvassing, frequently. They started texting each other often and spending too much time with each other at Target (a store, their favourite hangout place). During canvassing, they realise how citizens are being mean to Maya’s brown coloured skin; why those doors remain shut even after knocking several times. Some people open the doors just to criticize Maya and warn Jamie to not go for canvassing with her.
Jamie has always been a shy guy but he starts to feel at home around Maya. Also, Jamie never actually asked anyone out so he is scared of taking any kind of hints from Maya. He doesn’t want to ruin their bond. Jamie makes Maya meet her family. Maya gets crazy about InstaGramm and Sophie.
On the other side, Maya’s parents don’t give her the answer that she is waiting for months because she doesn’t want to be hanging in between. She is waiting for the trial to get over so that her parents move in together but then her dad replicates Maya’s room from their original apartment to his new one. This disturbs Maya more. Also, Sara (Maya’s best friend) stops taking her calls; she desperately wants to talk to Sara about all the things going on in her life.
In between all this, she gets to know about a bill H.B. 28 passed by the Senate House banning women from covering their heads, it upsets her since she is a Muslim, and her mom wears Hijab. She wants to take actions against it but she doesn’t know what to do.
After some time, she gets a chance to share it with Jamie and so she does. Jamie is a good listener. He advises her to talk to Sara about her feelings. Also, to cheer her up, Jamie tells her that they can make an appointment with the Legislative Director to make them rethink their decision of the bill H.B. 28.
Next day, they go for the appointment. They think that maybe getting their voice heard is as easy as getting an appointment to keep one’s opinion. However, it turns out to be opposite. But during that one appointment, Maya realises that no one cares to bring change; they all just want to rule. She realises that it’s not just about a car anymore, it’s something bigger and significant. People must realise their duties and rights as a citizen.
Also, Maya sees another side of Jamie, the one where he isn’t afraid of speaking up against what’s wrong. She witnesses his brave side. Right after the appointment, they found a Fifi on Jamie’s car. Some people around the city use a sticker with Fifi the poodle holding a cup of tea to celebrate white supremacy. It is a way to downgrade Rossum and his supporters. Earlier, Fifi-ing was just online, but later on, people stepped out of the virtual world.
When Gabe & InstaGramm got to know about it, they want to take some actions. However, they can’t manage to do anything as Jamie’s mom is afraid of Jamie going viral as Jewish guy as this can cause unnecessary trouble.
After a few days, Instagramm, Jamie and Maya catch a guy red-handed Fifi-ing their car. Instagramm deals with that guy while Jamie shot a video of the entire incident. This video gets famous, catching the attention of most of the citizens. Moreover, funds for the campaign start increasing and more volunteers start showing up for canvassing.
People not only like the idea of speaking up and raising awareness but also they adore Jamie & Maya. They start thinking them as a couple and post comments on their video likewise.
On one hand, the entire election is getting so serious. Maya & Jamie go for canvassing regularly. On the other hand, Jamie’s mom is worried about Sophie’s bat mitzvah. Jamie is scared of giving a toast for her mitzvah in a room full of people.
As suggested earlier by Jamie, Maya decides to fill the void in her bond with Sara so she meets her up. As always, she expects Sara to understand what she is going through and how she feels about getting replaced by Sara’s roommate, but it turns out to be opposite. Sara gets furious about how she has to take Maya’s entire emotional burden as she is Maya’s only close friend in the town. Maya gets hurt and then directly goes to Jamie’s home. Jamie and Maya have developed a good bond with time. She is used to him now. He helps her to lighten her mood.
The campaign manager, Gabe, sees Jamie & Maya as a potential magnet to raise more fund. He doesn’t care about their emotions and privacy.
After some time, Sophie’s special day comes. Everyone gathers there and Jamie is all set with his speech. After the speech, Jamie and Maya notice everyone staring at them. Whispers flying in the air. The realisation of what it’s all about sucks the air out of their body. Maya reacts aggressively and a bit dramatically, leaving the party and blaming Jamie for everything. The next day Sophie tells Jamie her big secret about her sexuality. On the other hand, looking at Maya’s bad mood her parents give her the car that she went to volunteer for at the first place.
Maya’s mom always tells Maya about how relationships are sacred in their religion and why getting intimate is not good before marriage. This stops Maya from getting together with Jamie even though she secretly wishes to. In the Bat Mitzvah, she discusses this with Jamie.
One of Sophie’s friends, who has a crush on Jamie (yes, she was only twelve), clicks a picture of Jamie & Maya right before the bat Mitzvah. That picture seems to be intimate but they didn’t even kiss. And since Gabe sees them as a potential magnet to make his campaign a success, he virals that photo. This makes the entire situation more difficult between Jamie & Maya.
Lately, Maya realises that Jamie isn’t at the fault but Gabe. She goes to meet Jamies in their usual hangout place, Target. She tells him her emotions and feelings and how she wants to take it slow. Jamie agrees with it. She assures him to deal with intimate part because after meeting Jamie, all she feels like is kissing him.
The election results day comes and they are all gathered up in a place for the results. In the end, Rossum the awesome loses the election. However, this motivates Jamie & Sara to get more serious about it as the change starts from the bottom rather than the top. The book ends with Jamie thinking about her sister and deciding his future for all he wants now is his voice to be heard.
The authors have shared the following messages through this story –
- It is possible to make a difference even when you’re not eligible to vote. The authors chose to make Maya and Jamie seventeen years old because they want their readers to know how it’s affecting young people and teens who can’t vote.
- This book is a roadmap for teenagers who are looking for ways to raise their voice.
- Whether it’s large or small, any and every action makes a difference.
Readers who want to have a taste of romance and politics in a book should read this book.