Audio book review: Yes No Maybe So

 

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BLURB

New York Times bestselling authors Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed have crafted a resonant, funny, and memorable story about the power of love and resistance.

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

|CW: racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, gaslighting, parental separation and divorce| 

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Muslim, Jewish, Pakistani- American, Queer, MlM side characters

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⭐⭐

2 stars

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Yes No Maybe So was not for me…

Yes No Maybe So is a contemporary romance novel that follows two high schoolers — Jamie, a white Jewish boy  and Maya, a Pakistani-American Muslim girl, the summer before their senior year as the canvas for the upcoming senatorial election in their state.

That’s where my hesitation starts from the White boy x Muslim girl trope. The pretty much only rep Muslim girls are worthy of in media. Its like we can’t exist outside this trope. It will be unthinkable. Don’t get me wrong there are certain books that use this trope unproblematically and flawlessly, All American Muslim for example. I absolutely adored this book and I rooted so hard for the main couple, Allie and Wells. Well I guess, Yes No Maybe So also did that somewhat unproblematically, but I won’t act like it didn’t affect my reading experience.

For the first about 30% of the book I couldn’t bring myself to really care about the book. Jamie, the male mc, seemed too cringy and I’m not talking about his social anxiety, I got that and I’m so happy about the rep, but Jamie himself was a huge cringe. I guess it’s because I don’t understand crushing so hard on someone, but almost always thinking of Maya was really cringy. I guess what kept me for this part of the book was I was invested in their family lives and I wanted to see where this was going. Maya’s family was practically falling apart, her parents were separating and she felt out of balance, and as someone who’s had a somewhat similar experience I understood her and I felt just as frustrated and scared as she was. On Jamie’s end, it was the pressure of being a big brother with his sister’s, Sophie’s, bar mitzvah coming up, and being an eldest child too, I got that.

It also didn’t help also that Jamie was also a bit oblivious about something about being Muslim, Ramadan in particular. It drove me up a wall and I just couldn’t believe that anyone would be that oblivious, but it seems he really didn’t know (I’m still not a fan of those scenes either) and he improved on his knowledge, so I couldn’t hold it over him again.

At about 30-33%, I got really involved in this book. I actually began to care. I should also say clearly, that the political and social commentary was actually why I stayed invested in this book and even why I rated it two stars. But this part peaked for me and I actually began to care about whatever was going on between Jamie and Maya. What happened here both politically, was just wow. It was so accurate and felt so real, and I was impressed with how correctly the authors got this and finally invested in the book.

Back to the romance, at this point I actually started liking them together, very begrudgingly. It seemed natural at this point, just two teens falling for each other. I’m not so staunch against Muslims dating or dating non Muslims. I’d obviously prefer Muslim/Muslim relationships, and doing it halal because that’s basically the ruling, but I’m not going act hypocritical and act like this doesn’t happen or isn’t some of our realities. I don’t think anyone acts that way, but where it becomes a problem is when it’s the only type of relationship you see in the media, and you just KNOW that that rep is not for you. I’m not going to say Yes No Maybe So doesn’t fall under this category, but it wasn’t handled completely terribly.

Now everything was going ok for me until about 85% and I was just done. I wish authors would know not to use certain harmful tropes, I might not say ever, but in this case it was unnecessary. I’ll tie this back to an issue I just realised after reading Yes No Maybe So, Maya’s relationship with her faith. At first I didn’t realise it because I’m used to such bad Muslim representation, and Maya was better than most of these, so the bar was set pretty fucking low. The more I think of it, the more I see that Maya’s Muslimness is actually seen as secondary to the plot and everything else, and when you have a book that’s about Islamophobia and other forms of prejudice, shouldn’t we get more representation than just fasting during Ramadan and Eid. That’s the problem, most of the book is set during Ramadan and the extent of Maya’s faith is just fasting. Wow. I understand that everyone is at a different stage in their deen, but it was Ramadan. Our ‘try harder, be more extra, work harder on your faith’ month. And our Muslim mc just fasted. In the month of literal magic and peace, with a family that’s falling apart, when you know prayers will be answered, you didn’t think about turning to God.  Just one line with this will have sufficed. She did say fasting brought her peace, but that was for Jamie’s benefit, and that was the end of it. 

Right, harmful trope… I don’t care how fucking upset a character is. I don’t care about them trying to make a situation easier for themselves, but you do not use a trope that has been used to villainise your people ever. The ‘my parents will never allow this and I can’t be with you because they’re so restrictive/strict’. Hold up. First, all Maya’s mother told her was that relationships are complicated and a lot of work, especially when you’re so young (which is correct) and being a senior in high school, she’ll have her energy expended on other things, and that many parts of relationships are sacred. And I was like, sis where did you get that from. Yes, its true that a lot Muslim teens aren’t allowed to date in high school and its true that some parents are pretty strict about this, but I didn’t for once get that vibe from Maya’s mom. And Jamie’s reaction wasn’t helping either.

Despite the negatives, in this book there were a few positives. Although the romance was…you know my view, I enjoyed the themes on friendship and growing apart (yes, this book has a friend break up and make up), family, being a brown Muslim woman in today’s world or in fact being anything but white cishet and Christian. I also really liked that the authors explored the invasiveness of people on social media and how unkind people can be on there, and the obliviousness to other marginalised people’s struggles which a lot of people are guilty of.

I also did love the narration. I think it’s part of the reasons I stuck till the end. If I was reading an ebook or physical book, I’d have thrown the book and given up a long time ago. The narration was amazing. The voice actors did a good job voicing different characters and relaying the emotion. If you ever want to read this book, I recommend the audiobook.

The characters just were…

I’m going to make this part short, because I spent a lot of time rambling on the first part. 

I found most of the characters of Yes, No Maybe So mostly tolerable, and the ones I didn’t were annoying. I didn’t love any of the characters.

Jamie, the male mc, was just a sweet guy who wanted to change the world and that was really sweet, except his existence mostly hung on thoughts of Maya and his awkwardness. 

Maya, on the other hand, was pretty ok for a regular teenager, but her Muslimness was mostly missing. She was mostly a normal American teen, and not much of a Muslim teen.

They were as I said, tolerable and at this point I think my favourite characters were Boomer and Willow, the pets.

I was disappointed…

I came into this book with extremely low expectations and still somehow I ended up being disappointed. The tropes, the characters, the executive and the end, just didn’t work out for me.

Yes, No Maybe So isn’t a book I’ll be revisiting.

 

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Have you read Yes No Maybe So? Did you enjoy it? If you haven’t read it, will you be reading it?

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14 thoughts on “Audio book review: Yes No Maybe So

  1. Great review! I liked YNMS a lot, but I’m not Muslim so I can understand how your points would have and did slip under the radar for me. Nonetheless I’m going to keep these things about Muslim rep in mind when reading books with it in the future! All-American Muslim Girl is o my TBR and I’m definitely going to give it a shot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you for taking notes of the points. its a really great way to be an ally 💗. aamg is amazing, you should definitely give it a try.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great Review, Em! I haven’t read this book yet but all your points are justified. I don’t know if and when I’ll be reading this book but it’s definitely not a must read book for me now!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Really well thought out Em! I have this book on my TBR, I was actually going to start it next because I was excited for it. I’m a lot more wary now and I agree, it’s important to be aware of some harmful tropes and not continue bringing them into the minds of readers. I do have to say, I was recently talking about how, many books I had read was really working on parent-child relationship and showcasing good relationships instead of negligent ones. However, it wasn’t until I saw the good rep that I realized we hadn’t had much good rep before. Thank you for talking about harmful tropes and how a rep should be done.

    I’m sorry you were disappointed, I do hope you find your next read lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am sorry to hear this book wasn’t for you. But I guess that is inevitable. I am glad the narration was good though. Because that can really ruin a good audio book if you ask me.

    Like

    1. i started this book and the narration was awful. i had to switch to the ebook, which i enjoyed better. and thank you 💗

      Like

  5. I’ve been waiting to read more reviews from POC on Yes No Maybe So. I’m a bit hesitant to read a Becky Albertalli book because I really didn’t like What if it’s Us? I don’t know, I just get the feeling that this may just be a “meh” kind of book.

    Liked by 1 person

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