Friday, February 14, 2020

Yes No Maybe So

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed (2020), narrated by Tiya Sircar and Michael Crouch

Jamie Goldberg's family is very involved in the campaign for their local Senate candidate and Jamie has been happy to volunteer behind the scenes. It's a busy time - in addition to this election, Jamie's sister's bat mitzvah is coming up so there are lots of plans afood for that. Meanwhile, Maya Rehman is having a terrible Ramadan, as her parents have decided to separate and their family trip to Italy has been cancelled. Their lives are getting very complicated and she's having severe transportation issues; but then her parents agree to consider buying her a car, but only if she works on this local Senate campaign. Jamie and Maya end up going door-to-door together, becoming very invested in the political campaign they're working on, and in their new friendship.

There was so much to like about this book! For one thing, the way these teenagers, who weren't old enough to vote, were nonetheless civically engaged. As they learned more about what was at stake in the election, they both approached their canvassing with a new fervor. They learned about a piece of legislation that could prevent Muslim women from wearing hijab while doing everyday activities such as driving, which would adversely affect Maya's mom. Their candidate winning could make all the difference to this legislation. While knocking on doors they had some strange experiences, including meeting a nasty Islamophobic guy.

Speaking of which, I really liked how important a role each of their religions played in the story. For Maya, the story began during Ramadan while she was fasting, which resulted in a couple of awkward exchanges with Jamie when he kept trying to give her food. Also, her family's religion played a big part in how they thought about dating in high school, which came up as she and Jamie realized they were attracted to each other. For Jamie, the story is working up to his sister's bat mitzvah, and also he was subject to an anti-Semitic attack in the form of a sticker put on his car.

I loved the way that Maya and Jamie's relationship developed throughout the book. Maya's best friend was distracted that summer and so Maya turned to Jamie when she needed to talk about her parents' separation. Jamie had a huge crush on Maya from the start but kind of assumed she wouldn't be interested in him. He was so delightfully awkward, and I loved seeing him grow more confident and find his voice. He had dreams of running for office, but worried about the public speaking part, especially since he was filled with such dread about giving the speech at his sister's bat mitzvah.

Becky Albertalli cannot write fast enough for me. I preordered this audiobook and listened to it as soon as I got it, so I have to wait who knows how long for another book. And I really enjoyed Aisha Saeed's book Written in the Stars so I was pleased to see her as co-author. By the way, this book is great on audio, as all of Albertalli's tend to be. Michael Crouch also narrated Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda so I already knew he was an excellent narrator; Tiya Sircar was new to me but also did a great job. This book would be enjoyable anytime, but it is extra relevant during an election year.

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