Yes No Maybe So book launch event attracts Young Adult Georgia readers


courtesy of Maddie Sullivan

Becky Albertalli (center-author of the bestselling novel Simon vs. The HomoSapiens Agenda) and Aisha Saeed (right-author of best selling Amal Unbound) recently released their novel Yes No Maybe So to critical success. The Georgia Center for the book held an event to celebrate the release of the book. “I loved seeing Becky Albertalli; it’s so surreal because she calls me, Luis and Isabel (friends of Sullivan) her squad. She’s one of my favorite authors, and her books make me feel seen as a teenager because she writes the minds of teens so well. Getting introduced to Aisha, the co-author, was so exciting, and I can’t wait to read her books now, too,” Magnet senior Maddie Sullivan said.

Luis Ponce, Features Editor

Recently, with leaders like Greta Thunberg and her environmental activism and Emma Gonzalez advocating for gun control, teens became more involved in politics than ever before. Their presence remains extremely important, but what happens when they become old enough to comprehend politics but not old enough to express their opinions through voting? Best selling authors Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed show what teens can do to involve themselves in politics in their recently published novel, Yes No Maybe So. On Tuesday, February 4, the Decatur Public Library hosted a launch event for the novel in which both authors discussed the importance of involvement in politics, representation in literature and the inspiration behind the novel. After the panel, where both Albertalli and Saeed spoke about the importance of voting, the event set a voting registration station where guests were given the opportunity to register.

Yes No Maybe So follows two teens, Jamie and Maya, who set off on a journey of local activism through political canvassing. This story about love, identity, and politics shows the importance of these three factors by tackling a handful of today’s political and social topics. 

We reached out to Albertalli and Saeed to do an interview with The Chant and here is what they said (No spoilers for the book ahead):

What inspired both of you to write Yes No Maybe So?

Becky: We were inspired by our own real-life experiences canvassing for Jon Ossoff, who was running in a special election for an open congressional seat in Georgia’s sixth district. It was the first time either of us had knocked on doors for an election, but we were determined to participate more actively in the political process.

Aisha: The process had felt really intimidating to me before I began. I thought you had to be an expert to canvass; I found out that it was not only pretty easy (the campaign gives you all the information you need when you go to canvass), but it was also pretty fun. From there, a story idea was born.


What do you hope readers will take away from your novel?

Becky: Every reader is going to pull something different from every story, and I love that – I never want to be too heavy-handed with my books. But in general, I hope this book makes local political activism feel more accessible to people who have been sidelined from the process, including teens.

Aisha: I also hope readers will see that even though the book tackles important issues like Anti-Semitism, Islamaphobia, and activism, it’s also a love story. Even in the toughest of times, it’s important to make space for joy, love, and hope.


What is it like to see people outside of the book’s political demographics enjoy it?

Becky: Truthfully, we haven’t heard from too many of them yet – I think the description of our book on retail sites and the book flap tends to attract mostly like-minded people, but we did get a surprisingly positive review from a website that caters to a VERY different audience than our normal political demographic. We were a bit taken aback – the politics in our book are pretty unapologetic –but this reviewer seemed to enjoy the story anyway. 

Aisha: Yes! That was pretty interesting.


Why do you think it important for teens to get involved with local politics?

Becky: I think teens can have such an impact at the local level, even when they’re too young to vote. Teens offer such an important perspective on so many issues – they often see nuances that adults miss. And getting involved locally can be such an empowering and hopeful experience for anyone – I love the thought of teens getting to experience that. 

Aisha: Teens (and younger) are already changing the world and taking on politics with all they do, from climate activism, water contamination in Flint and working for education rights around the world. It’s so great to see this, and the more people we have working toward the world we want to see, the greater the hope is for change.


What resources would you recommend for teens interested in getting into politics?

Becky: I’d recommend picking one established and reputable online news source (like The New York Times or the Washington Post), and try to keep up to date on the biggest headlines. Political news moves so quickly it can be hard to find print resources that feel totally current, but two books I’d recommend in particular are Martha Brockenbrough’s Unpresidented and Cindy Otis’s upcoming True or False: A CIA Analyst’s Guide to Spotting Fake News (out in May of 2020). 

Aisha: Also, for Atlanta readers, check out the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to keep up to date on local issues!


What was something each of you struggled with while writing YNMS?

Becky: I think one of the biggest challenges of this book for me was trying to balance the rom-com elements of this story with the more serious issues we wanted to address and unpack. Both were really important to us, and we wanted to make sure neither element was shortchanged. 

Aisha: I agree with Becky. This book takes on a lot of topics, and balance is always the most important thing when handling the topics we were taking on. 


What is something each of you learned in the process of writing this book?

Becky: I learned so much about the (many) similarities between Judaism and Islam – it was such a joy to be able to share my religious and cultural experiences with Aisha and to learn so much about hers. 

Aisha: I definitely agree with Becky—it was so great to learn more about her faith and traditional practices. We even had a research day where we went to the temple in town, and we saw Becky’s photo on the confirmation wall (and Jon Ossoff’s too!)  

Yes No Maybe So is available for purchase here and make sure to check out Becky and Aisha’s past works. Another local book signing will be held on April 18th at Posman Books in Alpharetta.