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Yes No Maybe So – Becky Albertalli & Aisha Saeed

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Ugh. Okay. I know there’s normally a better recap of the book but gosh dang I disliked this book so much that I can’t be bothered.

Jamie – Jewish, stage fright, canvases neighborhoods cause he LOVES POLITICS.

Maya – Muslim, divorcing parents, canvasing neighborhoods cause she WANTS A CAR.

Jamie & Maya – BFFS but can’t date cause of Maya’s religion…or can they?

Anyway, turns out thinly veiled romance books centering around politics go just about as well as you’d imagine. There were three main things that took me out of the book: The Personalities, the Politics and the Religion.

(Warning: spoilers ahead)

The Personalities – aka How you doing, fellow kids?>/i>

“I peer around the room—which is so packed with earnest-looking college kids, you’d think this was an Apple Store.”

Nearly all of the book was written from a…hmm…I’m struggling with how to say it…but essentially it felt like the authors were hardcore struggling to remember what it was like to be teenagers.

“There’s nothing quite like the futility of being seventeen in an election year.”

The teens enthusiasm for the absolute mundane politics, the high-stakes fake bills, the over-the-top-we-got-to-do-something-to-save-the-world…ugh…the teens had the fever pitch of born agains.

Real teens just don’t make their entire personalities based off of the political leanings. Being locked in a room with them would be murder.

And it’s so hard to be twelve or thirteen or fifteen or seventeen, when you’re old enough to get it, but… you can’t vote.

The Politics – aka tHe OtHeR sIdE iS eViL

So. Let me start off this bit by saying I’m a democrat and I’m so freaking sick of the way both sides treat each other.

I’m so freaking tired of watching politicians act like children, fearmongering and reducing their opposites under the blanket of “oh but they’re horrible people cause they’re on the OTHER side so it’s okay for us to treat them like less-thans.”

Initially I was intrigued how the book was going to handle the dichotomy between democrat vs republican but boy was I disappointed.

Like we’ve all seen this in YA Fantasy…when the authors feel like they have to CONSTANTLY remind you who the EVIL group is every other paragraph cause they’re worried you’d forget or something.

Yeah, turns out it doesn’t work in YA fantasy or YA contemporary.

I feel like if this book at least TRIED to make an argument for the republican side – after all, not every republican is a raging evil racist homophobic – then the book would’ve been tolerable.

But no, I was just told that any and all republicans are pretty much the scum of the earth and anything they believe in is awful.

To be fair there’s a lot of issues where I prefer the democrat side BUT to just blanket half the nation as bad? I just expected better of from this book. (and to be fair there was one “good” republican of the town…who voted democrat…)

The Religion – aka girl’s always got to change for the guy.

So, I will say (right off the bat) that I’ve read a TON of books on the subject but I don’t feel like I’m an expert when it comes to the religions mentioned in this book.

So, if you’d like an in-depth analysis, I will defer to the gorgeous rant from may ❀ .

Essentially, I was really excited about the religions showcased in this book – Jamie was Jewish and Maya was Muslim.

And early on, we were told that Maya cannot date because of her religion.

From what I can tell, Maya believes in this and she’s fairly religious (she fasts (of her own choice) for Ramadan, and while she doesn’t do too much else on-screen, she also doesn’t seem to be chafing or upset at her beliefs, nor does it seem like her parents are forcing their beliefs on her).

SO from the get-go: it gave an uniqueness to the story and I was really excited to watch this play out.

And then she just throws it all away cause she tOtAlLy LoVeS hIm.

Sigh.

To boil down why this annoyed me SO much this round…it just feels like every time I read a book from a Muslim girl’s perspective SHE has to be the one to change and re-orient her beliefs to fit a western narrative.

I’m tired of watching authors making their female characters abandon their beliefs and pursue whatever the “American” friends or cute boys tell them to.

Whether it be removing the hijab, breaking halal or throwing away dating restrictions (i.e. according to this book, you should only be dating if you are serious with intent to marry) – the Americans are always shown as the “right” side and the religious beliefs are ones that are made to be broken.

And I don’t see what made it necessary to do this. Why can’t we have a handful of stories where the girl doesn’t have to give it all up for a guy she met less than a year ago?

Now, if Maya had expressed extreme displeasure or a desire to “break free” or if it was shown that her parents are forcing their beliefs on here, then I might have thought of this differently.

But up until the moment where she realized she like-liked the boy and that he like-likes her back, she was showing nearly the same beliefs as her parents.

But then again, everyone knows that deeply held religious beliefs can’t stand in the way of SUPER DUPER TOTALLY IN LOVE teenagers together after a few months and “break up” for like 2 days before realizing just how in love they are.

Thank you for coming to my TED Talk

One thought on “Yes No Maybe So – Becky Albertalli & Aisha Saeed

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