I was excited to read this because I just adored Lisa Yee’s Millicent Min: Girl Genius (read my review). Millicent was so well drawn as a character that she became a real person for me. In fact, I still have her voice in my head even 8 months later. Sadly, this is not the case with Maybe. I read this last week, and as I write this, the only thing I still have clearly in my mind about her is the changing color of her hair and the fact that she dyes it with kool-aid. Maybe is billed as being this independent, dynamic girl, yet spends most of the narrative reacting to circumstances instead of taking a proactive role. She lets her friends walk all over her (she doesn’t object when her guy friends take the beds and make her sleep on the floor?! Seriously?), she bums around in California instead of looking for her father, and when her purse is stolen, she kind of just gives up and hopes for some sort of miracle to save her from homelessness.
Perhaps to counterbalance this serious lack of title character personality, the novel is populated with a plethora of over-the-top supporting characters, most of whom are extremely egocentric (except for one of Maybe’s former stepfathers who is so accommodating it borders on a creepfest). For example, Maybe’s friend Ted, an adopted Thai, is splashy, charming and bold but once he starts working as an assistant for a reclusive Hollywood star, he becomes unbearably pompous.
There were definitely things I liked about the novel, such as a subplot where Maybe has job at an illegal Mexican food stand, but overall, this felt like a really disjointed series of vignettes and crazy personas that could’ve used a stronger, more memorable and more proactive main character to hold it all together.
ABSOLUTELY MAYBE is out in hardcover now. To find out more about the book, visit absolutely-maybe.com.