Book Review: Absolutely Maybe

Book Review: Absolutely MaybeAbsolutely Maybe by Lisa Yee
Release Date: May 2010
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Pages: 274
Source: ALA

Her name is Maybelline Mary Katherine Mary Ann Chesnut, but you can call her Maybe. She's named after two Miss America winners and her mother's favorite brand of mascara. And while she could recite the Seven Select Rules for Young Ladies by heart, she is no tiara wearing wannabe beauty queen. In fact, with her oversized t-shirts, Kool-Aid dyed hair, and purple lipstick some may even say she's Goth. She spunky, has a mind of her own, and hopes to someday have a normal life.

Unfortunately, normalcy is not something she is familiar with. Her mother, Chessy, runs a charm school that promises her students will be winners. A Former beauty pageant winner herself, she knows all the secrets. But behind that pretty smile and big hair, Chessy is an alcoholic and serial marrier. She falls hard and fast, but can never make the marriages last.

When soon-be-husband #7 makes a move on Maybe, she's decided she's had enough.  With her best friends Hollywood and Thammasat Tantipinichwong Schneider (aka Ted), she heads off to L.A. to find her father. She's certain he will welcome her with open arms once he knows she exists. Armed only with his first name and possible profession, finding him proves to be harder than she ever imagined. While Maybe is determined to let nothing stand in her way of finding him, along the way she may just find something even more important. Herself.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I simply adored Maybe. It was nice to see her drop her defenses as she discovered who she truly was beyond the craziness that was her life in Florida. I was also happy to see that her journey wasn’t just a walk in a park. While things ended up well for her, she still had to deal with being without money, shelter, or a job. Yee, thankfully, did not idealize running away.

However, while Maybe had to go through some trials, her friends did not. I felt it was completely unrealistic how things work out for Ted and Hollywood. I mean, really, how often does newbie film student when a big competition their first time entering? Not to mention Ted being hired as an assistant for this famous celebrity with no experience and minimal references. And not only does he land the job, but he flourishes to the point where he is the most important part of her life? It all seemed too unlikely for my taste.

There are a couple of other very minor things that sort of bugged me to such as introduction of Ian. He seemed liked a possible love interest, but disappears soon after the introduction. There are a couple of mentions of him in passing, but the character himself never reappears. If he was just meant to be just a page filler, simply mention him and move on. Why spend time explaining how cute Maybe thinks he is if there is to be nothing more to it? I’m also not sure how I feel about Hollywood’s film and the reference that Maybe is the “teenage Oprah”. While I think Maybe is great, I didn’t see Hollywood’s Maybe. Was this something we were suppose to pick up between the lines…or is this just a product of his infatuation with her? (I’d be interested to hear other’s take on this.) My last issue is how easily Maybe forgave her mom. I realize without this Yee could have never had her happy ending, but it felt too much like fluffy clouds and sunshine. But then maybe I just worry that Maybe and Chessy will slip back into their old life without anything really changing, which would truly be the saddest thing ever.


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