Maybelline, called Maybe, is a reluctant resident of Kissimmee, Florida, and the daughter of former beauty queen Chessy Chestnut, who now owns the hottest charm school in town, churning out pageant winners left and right. Chessy has been married multiple times, and her current sleazy fiance is the last straw for Maybe. When Chessy takes his side over her daughter’s, Maybe convinced her friend Ted to come along when she hitches a ride with their other friend, Hollywood, to Los Angeles. Hollywood (only he prefers to be called Daniel now) will be going to film school at USC, hopefully on his way from filming Ted and Maybe every chance he gets to directing blockbusters. Tagging along seems perfect to Maybe, because the only thing she knows about her father is that he’s a Hollywood big shot, and she’s determined to find him in LA. Ted and Maybe don’t exactly know what they’re going to do to support themselves in California, though, and they’d better figure it out fast. LA will be a surprise for all of them, and absolutely transform Maybe in ways she can’t imagine.
Absolutely Maybe is a charming novel full of quirky, endearing, complex, and completely believable characters. I particularly loved Ted, and Maybe is awesome in her own way, too. Lisa Yee manages to write a funny, lighthearted book, with some definite laugh-out-loud hilarious moments, while simultaneously managing to deal with some big issues. Maybe has to figure out her family, her friends, and most of all, herself. This is an intricately crafted portrait of the relationships between people that really rings true. Every page is enjoyable, and Lisa Yee’s first YA novel does not disappoint. It’s a very readable, sweet story that will leave you with fuzzy feelings and some new favorite characters.
Edited to add something I only thought of later: This book is particularly awesome because it is a contemporary coming-of-age story that does not have a significant romance. There are plenty of close relationships between friends and family, but Maybe doesn’t feel like she needs to be with a guy to be happy. Unusually awesome, no?
Four out of six windows: