A Fierce YA Contemporary Fiction!
“The moment when Maya Gera, California farm girl, books it from here all the way cross-country, to the city that never sleeps, the place dreams are made of. My dreams, at least. In New York. And for once, it’s not just me making up stories. This is real.”
How Maya Got Fierce by Sona Charaipotra is as fresh and fierce as the title implies. The LitBuzz Hive is well acquainted with Sona through ClubHouse, and I am absolutely tickled to be able to read and review such a remarkable novel for an equally incredible and kind person and author such as Sona. How Maya Got Fierce is a truly unique and refreshing YA Contemporary novel with a great lead character—Maya—and a storyline that’s charming, inclusive, and made me feel like I was a part of Maya’s close-knit family and community for a few hundred pages.
After being sent off to Cow Camp in New Jersey, for the summer, Maya is tantalizingly close to NYC and her dream employment: Fierce magazine. Her cousin’s girlfriend is employed in the Fashion Closet for the magazine, and after a Sunday afternoon, Maya’s dream seems even more attainable than they had in the hot garlic-soaked sunshine back in Gilroy, California. As the daughter of immigrants from India who have established a small empire in the farming community, Maya is caught between what is expected of her, and the writing dreams she longs to fulfill at Fierce. Family obligation crossing with a heart’s desire is a big theme in How Maya Got Fierce, and Maya comes face to face with her cousin’s lesbian relationship, as well as finding out that swoony Ranbir is more than the heir to the Dhillon wine estate.
“Ever imagine what it would be like?” he asks, his head resting atop mine, his voice so soft I have to snuggle closer to hear. “If we could just do what we want, chase our dreams? I can almost see us here next year, college and the chaos of it, the freedom…”
After landing in New Jersey, there are just a few missteps and mishaps that lead Maya to a once in a lifetime opportunity for a seventeen-year-old that even as level-headed as she is, Maya cannot pass up—consequences have no place when a teen’s dream is on the line and success is within her grasp. The heart of this storyline lies in the tangled web of lies Maya needs to maintain in order to keep her dream job, keep her family happy, and even manage to keep the guy. Sona Charaipotra masterfully evokes so many beautiful cultural references and makes them relatable for all readers. Family problems and the obligations that come with wanting to honor where you came from but make your own special mark on the world is truly a problem that transcends cultures for many of us.
Even though it seems a bit of a reach to think that at just seventeen Maya has the writing chops and the maturity to handle an assistant editor position at a renowned publication, it’s easy to see how some immaturity could be overlooked due to the conviction of Maya’s voice and the freshness and inclusivity of her ideas. Performative ally-ship and racism within established company hierarchies are some of issues that Maya faces and tackles head on. Giving a voice to Maya in this way also shows that the ideas of the younger generations not only deserve to be heard but should be elevated. The idea that Sona Charaipotra gives voice to is that everyone deserves to be heard and certainly the next generation of free thinkers,—is an idea that which we should all take note.
“The energy here feels like a little revolution, like the power and passion in this room could change the way future generations look, feel, and think. It thrums through my veins like too much caffeine, and I can’t wait to be a part of it all.”
Sona Charaipotra’s newest release is not your average finding herself in the big city kind of young adult novel. How Maya Got Fierce is as bold and vibrant as the title implies. Full of diversity, inclusion, family values, and the meshing of old-world tradition with new-world modern living, How Maya Got Fierce should be on your radar and definitely deserves a place on your shelves. Congrats to Sona on a fabulous new release, due out soon!
Jes is a self-proclaimed bookworm, who recently moved from the PNW back to the Midwest. When her nose isn’t in a book, she’s spending time with her husband, two kids, and her three fur babies, or exploring the globe. She also firmly believes that you should start the day with coffee, and end the day in bed with a good book.