Review of Yes No Maybe So

Yes No Maybe So
by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed
High School    Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins    440 pp.    g
2/20    978-0-06-293704-9    $18.99
e-book ed.  978-0-06-293705-6    $11.99

In alternating chapters, teens Maya (a Muslim girl) and Jamie (a Jewish boy) narrate a story set amidst a longshot Georgia state senate campaign. Pushed by their politically progressive moms into canvassing together, they continue the work longer than expected — mostly because they believe in the cause (their candidate’s opponent supports a bill that would restrict head and facial coverings, and though Maya doesn’t wear hijab, her mother does) — but also because they enjoy each other’s company. Jamie’s cousin, who’s the candidate’s assistant campaign manager, complicates matters with his eagerness to exploit anything that might make the campaign go viral, including the pair’s awkwardly burgeoning romance and the vandalism of Jamie’s car with a white-supremacy sticker. Albertalli and Saeed work the above concerns naturally into a mostly light rom-com, along with elements of both characters’ religions: Jamie’s family is in prep mode for his sister’s bat mitzvah, while Maya fasts for Ramadan for much of the book and struggles with her parents’ reservations about her dating, either outside the faith or at all until she’s older. Though the ending is hopeful, the novel leaves much unresolved, allowing its characters and their emotions to stay complicated.

From the January/February 2020 Horn Book Magazine.

Shoshana Flax
Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, assistant editor of The Horn Book Magazine, is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons University. She is a current member of the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award committee, and has served on the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.

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