Book Review: How Maya Got Fierce by Sona Charaipotra

Hello friends! Today I have a review of “How Maya Got Fierce” by Sona Charaipotra–which came out today!

A digital ARC of “How Maya Got Fierce” was provided to me by Fierce Reads via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Read on to check out the official synopsis of the book, my review, and a bit about the author!

Synopsis

The Bold Type meets Younger in How Maya Got Fierce by Sona Charaipotra, a YA fish-out-of-water contemporary novel!

Ever since she was little, farmer’s daughter Maya Gera has known what her future holds.

The heiress to a mini garlic empire in the heart of Gilroy, California, she’s meant to be a good Indian girl — which means agriculture school, an MBA, and settling down with a suitable Sikh boy.

So spending her 17th summer at cow camp in New Jersey is a really big deal. Farm kids nationwide convene to learn to milk cows, shuck corn, and, uh, form ‘strategic alliances.’ But when Maya gets kicked out of camp after an expensive accident — yes, it involves a boy — she scrambles to save face and keep her parents from finding out. Hard to do when she owes the school thousands of dollars.

Desperate to earn enough to pay off her mistake, Maya interviews for an internship at Fierce, a fashion magazine she’s been obsessed with forever. When she lands a gig as assistant features editor, it’s a New York City dream come true. Especially because she rocks at it.

But it might soon become her worst nightmare — because the Fierce folks think she’s 26.

And just wait until her parents find out.

My Thoughts

When I say this book has my whole heart… At every turn, I couldn’t help but fall in love over and over again at its wonderful storytelling, adventure, and representation.

Let me start by saying I am a Central Valley girl. When I learned our main character Maya was too? Instant connection. There is something unique about growing up in the Central Valley, and it’s hard not to feel an instant kinship with someone you meet who is also from here. That’s what it felt like meeting and getting to know Maya.

While she’s Indian and I’m Latina, and she’s 17 while I’m 26, we’re both brown girls from the middle of California who want to see people like us represented and our stories written and shared. Oddly, that’s why I ended up going into journalism in college, something I could easily see Maya doing (her dreams were very much discussed in the book, but there was no definitive plan by the end, so I can only guess!). I guess what I’m trying to say is I saw so much of myself in Maya and it was so, so special.

As for the story itself, it was definitely an exciting one! Going with Maya on her wild adventure into working at her favorite publication under strange and high stake circumstances was really fun and I am very pleased with how Sona was able to navigate that and come up with a solid ending.

I also loved getting to know more about Maya’s culture. I guess it was sort of kismet that I randomly watched (and then rewatched) the first 5 episodes of Ms. Marvel before diving into “How Maya Got Fierce.” I was able to understand a bit more about her culture, and even certain words, rather than just gloss over certain things or have to pause reading to look them up. Granted, most stuff was explained with context clues, but it was nice nonetheless.

My favorite character was easily Shenaz, Maya’s cousin’s girlfriend who becomes Maya’s fashionista fairy godmother. I just loved how much she was there for Maya while Roop was working and dealing with her own family issues. I don’t know, Shenaz just spoke to me and I love her and wish I had her to be my fashionista fairy godmother.

I’d genuinely have to say the only thing about this book that I was very unsure about was Maya and Xander’s relationship. The whole thing has a weird vibe but more importantly, there’s the whole illegality of it. Maya is 17 while Xander is I’m assuming at least 20. And this is acknowledged over and over by Maya, especially once she’s technically becomes his boss, adding in another element of wrong. I was able to sort of move past it as Maya simply having a crush, but then it’s clear Xander also returns those feelings and once he figures out Maya is 17, it doesn’t change anything. They even kiss. And her lightly pursues her. If we take away all of that, and bump up Maya to 18, it’s still feels weird having anything romantic between them. I would have so preferred a friendship or sibling dynamic between the two because when that’s all that was on the page, those two were magic together.

Other than that, I fully enjoyed this book. Every other character relationship and dynamic was interesting to me and moved the story along nicely. It was a breath of fresh air and I look forward to more from Sona Charaipotra.

★★★★☆ (4/5 stars)

About The Author

Photo Credit: Navdeep Singh Dhillon

Sona Charaipotra is the author of Symptoms of a Heartbreak. She is a writer who has worked as a celebrity reporter at People and TeenPeople and has contributed to publications ranging from the New York Times to TeenVogue. She uses her master’s in screenwriting from NYU and her MFA in creative writing from the New School to poke plot holes in her favorite teen TV shows—for work, of course. She is the cofounder of CAKE Literary, a boutique book packaging company with a decidedly diverse bent, and the coauthor (with Dhonielle Clayton) of the YA dance dramas Tiny Pretty Things and Shiny Broken Pieces, as well as the psychological thriller The Rumor Game. She is a proud We Need Diverse Books team member.

Published by Selina Falcon

Reader. Writer. Live music addict.

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