Cover Image: How Maya Got Fierce

How Maya Got Fierce

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Member Reviews

- 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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Thank you so much to Feiwel & Friends for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Ooooh this was such a fun read! Sona Charaipotra always has such entertaining novels and How Maya Got Fierce was no different. The premise of the novel was incredibly interesting. In this book, seventeen-year-old Maya, daughter of parents who run a garlic empire in Gilroy, California, being sent to cow camp for the summer only to be drawn into working for her favorite magazine, Fierce (unbeknownst to her parents). She applies for an internship at the magazine but through some miscommunication, accidentally ends up applying for a full-time editorial position (meant for actual adults, not seventeen-year-old high schoolers).

This book felt like the perfect summer teen movie, full of themes like pursuing your passions, friendship, new love, and finding your voice even as a young South Asian girl. I loved how passionate Maya was, even if she was deathly afraid of screwing up and disappointing her friends and family, as well as her mentors and co-workers at Fierce. I truly was living vicariously through her life at Fierce, and I actually really liked how the conflict and climax of Maya lying about her age when joining Fierce was resolved. It didn't feel cliché at all, and honestly more refreshing than storylines that contain this trope.

I also loved the themes of important topics within South Asian communities, such as homophobia, inter-faith relationships, and classism among diaspora communities. Maya's final piece about the young mothers among the Punjabi community in the Central Valley of California was really touching. There aren't many South Asian YA novels that focus on the families within the Punjabi diaspora, especially the families of Punjabi farmers. Even if Maya and her friends had their differences at cow camp, I really liked how they banded together at the end to help out with Maya's story at Fierce.

The romance in this book was also super cute! I'm obsessed with Maya and Ranbir and I liked how this book dealt with the complications of first/new love. However, I think the book could have gone without Xander being a love interest. Their "relationship" made me really uncomfortable considering Maya is a minor, and it was obvious that Xander was aware of that pretty early on during her time at Fierce.

Overall, I'd give this novel 4 stars! It was honestly a really short read and I think it could have easily had 25-50 more pages to not make the story as faced paced (I literally finished this within a 4-hour flight). As much as I've enjoyed Sona's previous novels, I think How Maya Got Fierce is definitely my favorite now!
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Thank you to Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group and #NetGalley for allowing me the opportunity to read a digital ARC of How Maya Got Fierce by Sona Charaipotra. This contemporary young adult novel will be released July 12, 2022. All opinions are my own.

Maya is the heiress to a small garlic empire. As such, her traditional Punjabi parents send her away to Cow Camp for the summer. For families like hers, this is viewed as the first step towards taking over the family business. Maya, though, dreams of working for a magazine. Specifically, she wants to work for Fierce and help ensure that the stories of women like her get told. After arriving in New York for camp, Maya learns that her cousin’s girlfriend works for Fierce and the opportunity to intern there knocks at her door. There’s just one problem, Maya didn’t apply for an internship, she accidentally interviews for and accepts a full time, paid position. In too deep and afraid of what the truth will bring, Maya forges ahead, but how long will she be able to keep up the ruse?

I really enjoyed this book. It’s about finding your identity, being true to yourself, and family. There is a romance line throughout the book that, honestly, I could have done without. I don’t think it’s the healthiest relationship for either involved. I did enjoy the glimpse into Maya’s culture and the discussions of representation, who gets their story told, and who gets to tell it. The book also touches on LGBTQ relationships and how they’re viewed within the Punjabi culture. Classism is another big topic in the book. I felt as if the author really tried to fit a lot into this book and did amazing with most of it, but somethings didn’t get as much depth or attention because there was just one too many things. For example, removing the romance plot could have allowed for other plot elements to be deepened. The book is fun and quick paced and would make a good summer read.
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As an Indian American, this book was incredibly relatable to my high school experience in terms of proving myself. While the main character gets confused for someone much older, the struggle to make sure she doesn't get in trouble for the lie but also proves herself was super super relatable. I also loved how rooted in Indian culture this was, how well rounded the family was and the detail and painstaking effort put into making this book exude love despite the tension of a massive secret. Loved it!
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DNF @20%

This is definitely a case of "it's not you, it's me". How Maya Got Fierce is a YA coming of age story following a Desi girl attending a "cow camp" for heirs to agricultural empires (her parents own a garlic farm). The camp in near NYC and Maya secretly wants to work at her favorite magazine Fierce, not become a garlic farmer. Her cousin's girlfriend works there and gets her the opportunity to freelance, which is thrilling. Meanwhile, there's a will-they-won't-they romance brewing with her childhood friend, but his ex-girlfriend isn't ready to let go.

According to the description, Maya eventually ends up lying about her age (26 instead of 17) in order to work at Fierce. Which is an interesting premise but I think it takes awhile to get to that part. There's a lot to like about this book- it's a fun YA contemporary with great representation that I think a lot of teens will enjoy. It's just that I'm at a point in my life where I'm less and less interested in this kind of YA story and although I've really enjoyed this author's co-written thrillers, I think this one just isn't for me. I hope others will check it out though! There's an emphasis on fashion, talk of how people of color are really marginalized in the fashion industry, and it's clear that Maya's culture means a lot to her. All of which is great. I received an advance copy of this book via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
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This is a high school version of The Devil Wears Prada mixed in with a whole Romeo/Juliet story of the haves and have nots of Central Valley farmer youth.  It's a fun and sweet story with a cast of characters that is memorable and unique.
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I love this story. Opportunities and determination are a couple of my favorite things in stories and this book has it all.

Maya is a seventeen year old, Punjabi farm girl from Gilroy, CA, the garlic capital. In order to help her parents and family out, she decides to attend Cow Camp in New Jersey/New York. It's where all the farm kids go to learn about agriculture and to help their families with their farming businesses. However, Maya is more excited about the fact that she'll be in New York, where the headquarters for Fierce magazine is.

I love that this is Younger meets The Bold Type (two tv shows that I loved watching). Maya mistakenly gets the assistant features editor position and now has to lie to everyone in order to fulfill her dream of working at Fierce magazine.

I love how Ranbir, Shenaz, Roop and Xander support her in living out her dream, even when they know it's built on lies and can come tumbling down at any moment.

Maya has ambitions and she's good at writing. I like that she wants to diversify the publication because it means something to her.

I didn't like how her cousin, Roop, was barely in the picture while Maya was staying at her place. It felt like she didn't care much about Maya, but I like that the distance was explained.

Overall, I was happy to have read this book and loved the whole experience. Maya's story was a fun, unforgettable one.
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After devouring Sona Charaipotra's novels with Dhonielle Clayton (Tiny Pretty Things, Shiny Broken Pieces, and The Rumor Game), I was instantly excited about her next YA novel -- especially considering it was described as Younger meets The Bold Type. As a fan of both those shows and a magazine alum myself, that storyline already won me one. The book, much like a diverse adaptation of the short-lived Jane By Design, was so enjoyable and fun. Had so much compelling language that drew me in, desperate to learn how this average teenager could make it as a legit magazine editor. Alongside a precious summer camp-esque romance, it's an authentic coming-of-age tale of empowering young women. So captivating.
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How Maya Got Fierce caught my attention for two main reasons: I've read and loved a few other books by this author and I am also a fan of The Bold Type. This book definitely lived up to the description of The Bold Type meets Younger, and I'd say it had even more to it than that. Maya is a great lead with many hopes and dreams. I enjoyed reading the double life she leads while she is in New York, along with all of the family dynamics thrown into the mix. How Maya Got Fierce is a fun book for YA fans looking for their next read.

Thanks to Netgalley and Macmillan Children's Publishing Group for this ARC; this is my honest and voluntary review.
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I finished WHEN MAYA GOT FIERCE a few months ago and loved it! Maya was wonderful and funny and relatable. Also, the queer South Asian rep made me so happy! I really loved Maya's boss, Ericka. She was an incredible role model and reminds me of many badass female execs breaking barriers in creative fields. I believe in this story and related to it so much. I just started a part-time job at a creative company where everyone is older than me, and Maya's feelings of imposter syndrome mirror mine. I think this book demonstrates the importance of mentorship and guidance, and I really appreciated that.

I think there is a lot of interpretation left up to the reader. There are loose ends at the ending, and the reader is left with a lot of questions about workplace dynamics. This was an interesting choice to make, and one that left me feeling a bit angry and lost. However, after further reflection, I've realized I still liked the book because I learned so much from it. This book was honest, real, and told a story about an experience that didn't match my own- and that's okay. 

I think as a reader and reviewer, sometimes when I start relating a little bit to a book, I want the whole book to perfectly match my experience. However, it's imperative that I recognize that being left with a story about a girl like me who isn't perfect, who isn't this incredible South Asian girl who does no wrong, is okay too. I had to be left with the fact that like me, this Maya makes mistakes, and sometimes life is really hard and it doesn't all work out. 

All in all, this was a book unlike any other I've read. I would highly highly recommend to any readers or reviewers looking to diversify their bookshelf in terms of genre, age range, or representation!
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From the synopsis I sort of figured this books would be a bit cheesy but cute. I was prepared to suspend some disbelief so that the main character could work at a women's magazine at 17.  

While I liked the main character and the general pace of the story and the diverse cast of characters, I had a hard time staying in that world because of a few things. There were a lot of places where the dialogue either didn't flow or didn't feel believable. Either it felt like that character wouldn't say a certain phrase or like the author included certain phrases to sound more youthful. There were conversations that felt stilted or like a page was missing, the way the dialogue progressed. No one ever said enough, but they understood each other, which made no sense. This made me have a hard time accepting other details, like that the main character really would've gotten the assistant editor job at 17 or that her cousin's girlfriend would help her lie to the important people in her own job.

I did appreciate getting to read about a bunch of Desi teenagers from farming families, which isn't something I've seen before. I liked the diversity of the cast, and most of the characters. So I'd still try reading something by this author again in the future, I think.
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How Maya Got Fierce is the story of a sixteen year old Indo-American who is trying to fulfill her dream for an internship in the magazine 'Fierce'. The only problem is, she got hired as an assistant features editor and her bosses think she is 26. And to make matters worse, not even her Punjabi, garlic farm owner parent's know about this.

Being an NRI mysekf, I was instantly attracted to this book, and my instincts were not wrong. I loved Maya's character, and related with her on many levels. Although there are many American qualities about her,I loved how she is still deeply rooted to her culture, cuisine, and language. Speaking of the story itself, I found the concept very intriguing and that didn't disappoint. I also liked how the author made reference to the LGBT community in such an authentic way. What I mean is in most books, we see that gay couples are easily accepted by their family, but that is not always the case, and this was a perfect depiction of just that. I found Maya's mom to be loud, energetic, and bubbly like most Punjabi women I know. Speaking of the negatives, I can't pinpoint exactly what  was missing, but I would drive through many parts of the book. Maybe it was that parts of the story line like the On and off romance and all the drama with Dolly bored me. I think this was a memorable book that I will re-read parts of every now and again.
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Maya is a force to be reckoned with and truly is the heart of this story. She dreams big and she knows she one day wants to get her name printed in Fierce magazine. When one small mistake lands her the role, it seems like all of Maya’s dreams are coming true. Only problem? The internship she applied for is actually a job, and the magazine thinks she is 26.

Sounds like an interesting premise, right? I thought so too. Once we got the part of the story where Maya was actually at Fierce, the pages just flew by. However, it took a hot minute for the story to actually get to that place. Due to this, the pace at the beginning felt a bit slow in the beginning, but luckily picked up in the mid to end section. 

But do you know what wasn’t slow at all? The romance. I wish we could have had a bit more build-up when it came to the romance. A bit of tension, maybe, to make the pay-off that much more rewarding. Because once we got into the depth of the romance, it was so sweet. 

Though the weird semblance of a love-triangle that was going on was weird. Maya acknowledged that anything happening with Xander was weird given their workplace positions and the fact that Maya is literally 17. But there were still inklings throughout the book??? I really could have gone without. The relationship between Maya and Xander would have been much better as simply a supportive friendship, without kindlings of romance. 

That aside, the character development really shines. Maya really got fierce throughout the book and watching her come into the role and pursue her own dreams is so much fun. 

3.5 Overall, the familial elements, strong friendship (though the phrase "truckbois" could have been used like 48% less), and just the premise in general make for a really fun read. It definitely takes a hot minute to get into the groove of this one, but once you get into the thick of the story it really does pay off!
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This was Sona’s best book yet. I cannot wait for others to be able to read it. It is exactly the type of book young girls need on their bookshelves.
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I found this book very interesting. I loved the final magazine concept and would love it if there really could be a format where teens from all areas could be featured in this way. It would be great to see the cultural differences and similarities across the U.S..
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If you are looking for something sweet but goes deep without being super sad, I would recommend this book. I do wish there had been romance on a little deeper level. There is so much happening with the plot (not in a bad way) that it was hard to really cheer on a romance. Maya's journey through following what her parents tell her to do, to finding her own voice and place is lovely. Her parents are a good representation of accepting and unconditionally love. Overall, I enjoyed the books and will purchase it for my high school library.
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The idea of someone acting of an older age for opportunities is so much fun!

Rating: 2/5


Maya dreams of working in magazines. But as the daughter of garlic farmers, her path is set: it’s off to Cow Camp instead. But when she ends up in the New York City area and realizes her cousin's girlfriends works at Maya's favorite magazine - Fierce - an opportunity falls in her lap to intern. It's her dream job, and she can't pass it up, even if means disappointing her family and lying to her parents.

The only problem? Maya hasn't accepted an internship. She's accepted a full time job, as a staff writer, and everyone at Fierce thinks she's 26.

Maya is so close to making her dreams come true, even if the glam life at Fierce isn’t quite as shiny and fun as she hoped. But when she suggests the perfect candidate for a big story—and manages to get the scoop—all eyes are on her. How long can she keep her real age from her boss—and her real life from her parents?

Thank you NetGalley for giving me an ARC!
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