Jamie and Maya are two Americans aged seventeen. Jamie is Jewish. Maya is Muslim. They have known each other since they were children, but haven’t seen each other for several years. Jamie has the ambition one day to reach elected office. Jamie’s cousin Gabe is already active in the political world. He works for Jordan Rossum, an aspiring Democrat congressman. But for Jamie there is a snag. He detests public speaking. His sister Sophie is aged thirteen and according to Jewish custom is about to celebrate her Bat Mitzvah. Jamie is under acute pressure from his mother and his grandmother to propose the toast at the ceremony, a prospect that fills him with dread.
Meanwhile Maya’s life is in turmoil. Her parents, who had always seemed well matched, have announced a trial separation. Her best friend, Sara, is about to depart for a university two hours away. Her parents want her to spend the summer vacation canvassing with Jamie on behalf of the Democrats. If she agrees, she will be rewarded with her own car. Albertalli and Saeed tell the story of how this political campaign unfolds and how the feelings of Jamie and Maya change.
Plenty of older people believe that young people have no interest in politics. Or if they are interested, the complexity of political life is beyond their understanding. This book busts that myth wide open. Its depiction of the political process, of the way these two young people become involved in the process, of the moral and ethical issues raised by a political campaign and of the profound influence today of social media on political decision-making – all this makes a fascinating read. The publication of this book comes at a time when in different countries and in the world at large, forces for change are being driven by younger and younger people.