Saturday, March 7, 2009

Book Review: Absolutely Maybe by Lisa Yee

Maybelline “Maybe” Chestnut is at odds with her mother Chessy, a former beauty queen who only seems to care about her Charm School students and planning her elaborate weddings to a series of unsuitable men. So when Chessy refuses to protect Maybe from her latest scuzzball, Maybe decides to join friends Ted and Hollywood on a road trip out to California, where maybe, just maybe, she might find her real father.

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.

21 comments:

bermudaonion said...

Thanks for the review - I think I'll skip this one.

Marie Hansen said...

I was thinking of reading this... I might skip out on it now too.

Brooke Reviews said...

That's too bad. Maybe if this fell into my pile of books I'd read it, but I won't go out of my way.

Marie said...

Great review. I appreciate your honesty. Sorry it disappointed somewhat.

Marie said...

Great review. I appreciate your honesty. Sorry it disappointed somewhat.

jo-scrawls said...

Thanks for the review. Don't think I'll be picking this one up.

Bookworm said...

Oh, boo hoo. This is on my TBR shelf (Lisa sent me a copy), but I've heard a bunch of just-OK-not-great reviews. We'll see...

Donna said...

Awww, that's kind of disappointing. I still want to read it though. Don't know why but it piques my interest.

H said...

That's a shame. I love Lisa's blog and check it often, but I haven't actually read any of her books. Maybe I should try Millicent Min rather than this one though?

wrigleyfield said...

This is an excellent review; it gives me a pretty clear picture of the book. I think I'll skip this one but read the one you liked.

Lenore said...

Millicent Min is a must read in my opinion.

But there are also many reviewers who really liked this one so if you like the concept, I think you should still read it and hopefully you'll enjoy it more than I did :)

Kelly said...

I don't have this one, think I'll pass. Thanks for the great review!!

Khy said...

Illegal Mexican food stand?

Hmm. I may have to read the book just to find out what the deal is with that.

BookChic said...

I'm reading this right now and I'm kinda having the same reaction as you to it. I'm actually at the Kool-Aid hair color scene now, lol.

Great review!

robin_titan said...

I enjoyed this one quite a bit actually but I'll have to agree with you about Maybe's personality, sometimes that got on my nerves.

Shalonda said...

I was on the fence with this one. I might read this when my TBR pile is smaller.

Staci said...

I have Millicent Min in my library so I'm definitely going to read that one! Thanks for a great and HONEST review!!

Taren said...

Hey yo, I nominated you for an award on my blog!

Liviania said...

Psst: http://inbedwithbooks.blogspot.com/2009/03/blog-awards.html

Mari said...

Here's another for you. :)

http://marireads.blogspot.com/2009/03/what-week-sunday-salon.html

S. Krishna said...

Hmm...I'm not so sure about this one, but I'll definitely check out the other one you mentioned! Thanks for the review.