Cover Image: How Maya Got Fierce

How Maya Got Fierce

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Member Reviews

I really enjoyed this story. I really enjoyed Maya's voice and how she navigates her experiences. I laughed and I felt my feels, I also loved the romance that she experienced too. I completely adored this book and I have recommended this book. It was in one of my recent posts as well!
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I'm sad because I didn't like this one as much as I thought I would. I think I'm aging out of the YA contemporary genre. However, I do think other readers will love this book - I did like Maya a lot as an MC and the fact that she learns how to navigate her way through NYC.
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Reading this book in the same month that I watched Ms Marvel was like a double shot of fireworks and fun. A book featuring Desi characters from the unglamorous garlic capital of California, where usually no one stops except to get gas? Bring it!

For me, this book was also a double shot of wish-fulfillment. If you can buy a competitive, fast-moving boss in the fashion media world accepting a seventeen-year-old for a full-time job by accident, then the book will work.

Because one thing Charaipotra does is make it clear that though Cinderella got to the ball, she had to work hard for her jump from PA to princess. Along the way we get to know Maya's family members, and of course there is a cute guy. Maya cheerfully throws herself into the ninety-hour-week crazy that is the media life she always wanted, and watching her excel is just plain fun.

I enjoyed the book from beginning to end, and I hope we get to see a lot more that celebrates diversity and success.
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I love an implausible situation as much as the next reader, but this takes the cake. I didn't even see how Maya would get out of the bananas job she got herself into without absolutely destroying any contacts, and I have read quite a lot of YA. And while this has some romance, Charaipotra focuses on the family relationships first and foremost, which makes this story feel realistic and comfortable. Thanks to NetGalley and Feiwel Friends for an early read in exchange for my honest review.
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I initially picked this book up because I read a review mentioning The Bold Type, which is my favorite TV show of all time, and this book definitely did not disappoint! I could clearly see the inspiration, but it was so wonderful to read this representation with a protagonist who looks like me and I could relate to a lot more. I previously didn't know a lot about agricultural communities in the country, so that was a really interesting community to learn about through this book as well.
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How Maya Got Fierce turned out to be a quick and fun summer contemporary for teens and young adults alike. While this book took some time to set the stage, I was really able to appreciate that later on as I really felt for the characters in this story. 
 
I really loved the representation throughout this story. Coming from New York, I can’t say I know much about the agriculture industry, so having a story around Desi families and farming was really interesting. In the first half of How Maya Got Fierce, we really get to know the characters and how their families’ businesses impact their lives in so many ways. 
 
But then there’s Maya’s adoration for journalism and Fierce magazine, and these two worlds came together in such an unlikely, yet wonderful way. As I read, I wasn’t sure how this book would end off, but it was better than I expected.
 
A lot of what made the pace pick up for me was wanting to know how Maya would untangle her lies. I do think a little bit of suspension of disbelief has to go into reading this given that Maya’s pretending to be almost ten years older in a position that would have required past experience, but for the messages that came out of this book I feel like it was worth it. We all have stories to tell, and from so many unique perspectives. When I started my first job, I was encouraged to ask why we did the things we did at the company – since I grew up around technology, my perspectives were embraced, knowing that I could have ideas that could change things for the better. Maya was able to do this too, but by sharing the stories of populations that were less often heard.
 
There was definitely some second-hand stress trying to figure out how Maya would pull it off, and you can definitely feel that through her. But her passion for the magazine really came through as she strived for better representation in the magazine, and despite some of the questions I had about the odds of this kind of situation happening, the overall message of this book made it so worth it.
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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.
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Maya's parents have her whole life planned out: after she completes her junior year, she'll go to a college with a strong agriculture program, then get her MBA, and finally return to run the family garlic farm in California.  To start her on this path, they have enrolled her in a summer program in New Jersey, where she will live with cousin and make connections with other future agriculture leaders.  The only problem: Maya wants to work in magazines, like her beloved Fierce Magazine.  When she arrives in New Jersey, she learns her cousin's girlfriend actually works at Fierce and, through that connection, is able to apply to an internship at the magazine.  Doing the internship will mean dropping out of the camp and lying to her parents, but that seems a small price to pay for living her dreams.  

Through a set of unusual circumstances and mistaken identity, Maya is hired -- but as a full-time editor, not an intern.  She drops out of camp and jumps into the new role, and her work is embraced by her new boss and others at the magazine.  But even as Maya is loving her job, and gaining so many new experiences, she wonders how long it will be before her boss -- or her parents -- discover her lies.

This was an enjoyable and thoughtful novel.  Maya is a compelling and engaging main character, and it is terrific to go on her journey of self-discovery and growth.  What makes this story really work is that the author never lets Maya off the hook -- she continually grapples with her choices, and the impacts they have on those in her life, even as she is achieving her wildest dreams.  

Highly recommended!
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I’m moderating a panel with Sona for BookTalk and I really appreciate being able to read this before the panel. Thank you so much to the publisher !!
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This was a fun summer read! Who wouldn't want to land their dream job and the hot guy for the summer? Maya feels torn between what she feels she should do, what her family wants her to do, and the dreams she wants for herself. Spending the summer away from home helps her clarify things -- even though she weaves an epic weave of lies as she makes her way through. Recommended for grades 8 & up.
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It wasn't you How Maya Got Fierce it was totally me.  My mood has struck again and I wanted something to be faster paced and unfortunately this book was the casualty.  I loved Desi characters and culture within the book and I learned a lot from it.  It is something I haven't read a lot of in the past.  I wish the Fierce storyline with Maya actually working at Fierce was introduced sooner in the story, but that's a personal preference.  I may go back to the novel at some point, but for now it's sadly a DNF.  It is no fault of the story or author's work, but completely on my mood.  DNF at 52 % (Chapter 13).
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I love reading #OwnVoices experiences of immigrants to the US.  Really, I love reading pretty much all diverse fiction. I think it makes us all more empathetic and compassionate if we can walk a mile in someone else's shoes... even if they are fictional shoes.  

So much pressure on a young person to do and be what her parents want her to do and be! I love that Maya "got fierce", but honestly I think she was Fierce all along! 

I am finishing up the book tonight so I will finish writing this review tomorrow. I didn't want to miss the chance to send you feedback though!
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"How Maya Got Fierce" was a quick and enjoyable read. Beyond the Teen/YA categorization, I would also tag it as multicultural/own voices, and I liked getting immersed in Maya's experience and the Punjabi perspective. The pressures of familial expectations, and the tension with coming of age and finding your own way, were nicely explored here. Not just via Maya's story, but also with the supporting cast of characters.

When I read YA, I usually use two lenses for review/recommendation.  One being my own grown up preferences & perspective, the second being "would I recommend this to my tween/teen daughters?"

My own grown up perspective - 3 stars:  It was a little slow, took awhile to get to the "Younger" angle with the magazine job (I think ~40%). It picked up from there, and I wish there had been a bit more of the book spent with the magazine, near misses getting caught, etc. I had to suspend a lot of disbelief that a teenager could actually pull that off (and that some grown ups would go along with it, or be blind to it).

My mom "would I recommend to my kids" perspective - 4 stars: I definitely would. I like that it gets into the BIPOC experience. I like that it shows Maya struggling with expectations vs. her own desires and going for it. I like that it shows some healthy and realistic teenage relationships. I didn't love the lying, the doubling-down on the lying, and found the resolution a bit too easy and not remotely realistic.  I think this would be a great book to read along with your kid and discuss after.

3.5 stars, rounded up to 4

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the eARC, in exchange for my honest review.
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Mini review: 

I received this E-ARC via the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Was really looking forward to this but unfortunately I didn't like it.

The plot dragged and I was bored reading it. That being said I enjoyed reading about Maya's family and her growth!

I still recommend this.
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What an amazing story about family loyalty and chasing your dreams! I enjoyed reading about Maya balancing family expectations and exploring the life she wants for herself. This is relatable for so many young people today. Throw in Cow Camp, deciding how she feels about two guys, lying about her age to keep a dream job, and mending strained relationships it becomes a great summer read!
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How Maya Got Fierce follows seventeen-year-old Maya Gera as she experiences an unforgettable summer and learns how far she is willing to go to chase her dreams. I'm a big fan of the show Younger, so I was really intrigued by the reverse-premise of a teenager having to fake older to secretly get the job of her dreams. I liked Maya as a protagonist. She definitely feels like a real teenager, which I think makes her so relatable. She's smart and driven but also uncertain and a little bit impulsive. She navigates a lot of different things that I think teenagers can relate to – family, romance, discovering her dreams, and fighting for them. I was definitely able to root for her the whole time and found this book a nice, quick read.

I will say that it did have less drama than I expected, which did lower my overall rating a little. For me personally, it took a little too long for the main mixup to occur of her being accepted as an adult staff writer. There was a lot of general setup and some cute romantic setup, but I wanted all of the stuff with Fierce Magazine to occur sooner. And the story definitely has some drama, with mean exes and a petty boss. But I feel like there weren't enough big "almost caught" moments and that the overall fallout of everything wasn't as big as I'd realistically expect it to be. That being said, it was still an enjoyable story, and definitely encouraging for anyone who needs that reminder that their dreams are worth fighting for.

One thing I really liked was the exploration family and family dynamics. Maya's family has goals and expectations for her that differ from her own dreams, but not only does Maya love her family and want to make them proud, but she also does care about her family's farm and want what's best for it. I liked seeing a story where those differing dreams don't take away from the close and loving family relationship. I also love the exploration of changing relationships with extended family and ways that Maya sticks up for her cousin when other family is harmful. I love that family and culture play a big role in the story and shape who Maya is, which is a strength of the story.

Overall, it's a nice story and worth a read if you like fun, summer YA stories. While I do feel that some of the stakes could have been upped a little more, it was still a nice easy read. I like Sona Charaipotra's writing and am excited to read more of her writing.
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I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own. 
How Maya Got Fierce is a fun YA contemporary, and as the pitch promises, there’s major Younger vibes. I will say that the blurb drastically simplifies the sequence of events, as the promised point of conflict with Maya unwittingly ending up in an editor position does take quite a while to come to pass. So if you’re a reader who wants the premise to immediately pay off, this is not one of those books. 
I do really like how it allows for Maya to really shine as a character. She’s a Punjabi teen defying her family’s expectations by having bigger dreams beyond the family garlic farm by pursuing her dreams to work at Fierce. However, her narrative and the stories of others working for Fierce highlight the prejudices women of color face. As a reaction to this, there’s new editorial staff working to help diversify the industry who become Maya’s allies, even if she’s initially reluctant to divulge the truth of what happened, lest she lose her big opportunity. 
While I do feel the marketing does the book a disservice, it is a good book that just needs to find the right readers. If you’re interested in a character-driven look at a desi teenager interested in fashion and journalism and navigating that world more or less for the first time with a twist, following her growth as a character, I think you’ll enjoy it.
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- Okay, look. 90% of this book is totally, completely unbelievable. And yet, it's so candy sweet that I tore through it anyway.
- Maya is a wonderful heroine, unhappy with the life that's been preset for her and pushing against all boundaries, from family expectations to ageism.
- This book also deals with something I've never seen in a novel: what it might be like to be part of a community that experienced a mass shooting several years after the event. I thought this book did a good job showing how something like that continues to hang over everything and have long term impact, even after the initial shock is long gone.
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Thank you for this copy of How Maya Got Fierce! 

After loving the Tiny Pretty Things duology and The Rumor Game, I was excited to read another book by Sona Charaipotra! This book was so cute and all about finding your place in this big world! I enjoyed seeing Maya grow as a person. I liked how she followed her heart and went after what she wanted (the internship) rather than just doing what her parents wanted her to do. Another pro for me was the “found” family. I mean they are actually family but seeing Shanez and Roop’s dynamic with Maya and how they were always there for each other made me smile. 

Now, is it a little far fetched to believe a 17 year old could pass for 26, that her cousin and her girlfriend would help her get a fake ID for the ruse, that literally everyone at this magazine & HR wouldn’t have some follow up questions? Yes. It did bug me a little but it didn’t take away from my enjoyment. What did was the romance. I mean Ranbir and Maya seemed like a good fit at first but then he literally ghosted her for days and she was fine? Like I get there were problems with his mom, but he couldn’t just send a text? I liked the relationship with Xander more, but I felt like it didn’t even need the romance. I was more invested in Maya’s personal growth.
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I shamelessly binged episodes of Younger within the last year or two, so I was looking forward to reading a book with a similar premise. It turns out lying about one's age so one appears older is, somehow, much worse than lying to appear younger--probably because Maya is a literal teenager. Between that and her quitting Cow Camp without telling her parents, I was more uncomfortable than I expected to be. Sona Charaipotra tries to justify the lies and explain some of the suspension of disbelief (i.e., how the folks at the magazine did not know that she wasn't actually twenty-six), but it didn't totally work for me.

What DID work is the cultural aspect. I loved learning about Maya's home life and Punjabi traditions, especially her relationship with her mom and cousin. The descriptions of food are also excellent--it was almost impossible to not be hungry by the time I finished a chapter--and the trip to the gurdwara is fascinating. The romance is also cute and, though on the dramatic side, feels fairly organic. 

It's not perfect, but if you can get past some of the ethical dilemmas it's a sweet read.
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