Have you ever read a book that made you smile to yourself and laugh out loud? And people look at you weirdly wondering what you're smiling at? Yes No Maybe So was one of those books for me. For that reason, I granted it the honor of being my first official book review.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to Barnes and Noble with my family to get a birthday gift for my grandma. Naturally, the moment we stepped inside I headed straight for the YA (young adult) section. I didn't have a specific book in mind, I was just in the mood for a cute story. I had never heard of Yes No Maybe So before but the cover and synopsis intrigued me. It described a "cross-cultural crush" forming between two teens named Jaime and Maya who meet while volunteering with a political campaign. From that, I was hooked. I knew I couldn't wait months for this book to be in the library. Keep in mind, I'm usually not spontaneous about buying books because I'm afraid it will be a waste of money. However, I decided to take a chance on this one and it exceeded my expectations.
I savored it, read a little each day, until one day I decided to finish it. Without giving too much away, here are my thoughts on this lighthearted love story that deals with serious issues.
Firstly, the book is written from both their perspectives which I LOVE because it gives you two sides to the story. The setting is a town in Georgia during an important a state senate election. The two protagonists end up spending more time together when they are put on the same canvassing team. Even though they're not 18 yet, they develop a shared passion for politics as they meet and speak with voters. They attempt to navigate first love in the midst of family problems, fighting a discriminatory bill, and cultural conflicts.
Reading from Maya's perspective made me want to be her friend. It was so special and refreshing to read a YA novel without a white female protagonist. I learned so much from her, specifically about the Pakistani-Muslim culture. I found myself Googling different traditions like Ramadan and Eid. While I don't think a woman should sacrifice her values for a man, I rooted for their relationship from the start. I admire her strength in witnessing her parents' marital problems and her willingness to speak against adversity.
I wish I had a Jaime – a cute, slightly awkward yet confident guy. Reading from his POV made me so endeared to his compassionate nature. It gives me hope to read about a guy experiencing the same nervousness and inner conflicts when gathering up the courage to talk to a girl. I admire his dreams about becoming a politician because he wants to make a difference in the world.
There were so many moments where I knew I made the right decision by choosing this book – their shared love of The Office (Jim + Pam forever), Mellow Mushroom references, and Target being their happy place ;)
The way this book centered around a political campaign was actually pretty cool, especially since I have witnessed some of these aspects firsthand. I have been canvassing (aka "block-walking) a countless number of times for my dad's campaigns so I know how intimidating it can be. I have experienced the stress leading up the election day and the relief once it’s over. It reinforces the amount of hard work that goes behind getting a candidate elected to office.
I don’t normally dog-ear pages in my books but I found myself making folds with passages or comments that made me laugh (or swoon). *Disclaimer: it does get cheesy and romantic at times
I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a quirky story with lovable characters and reflective political commentary. I look forward to re-reading it in the future. I hope to write more book reviews soon, but with limited access to the library that might come in the form of audiobooks or oldies-but-goodies from my bookshelf. Stay Tuned & Happy Reading!