top of page

Just Say Yes by Goldy Moldavsky


Xolo Score 3.25/5


Just Say Yes takes readers on a journey back to 2006 when 17-year-old Peruvian American Jimena is at the cusp of beginning her post-high school life of attending college and taking her hometown of New York City by storm. But when a rooftop party gets a little too rowdy and Jimena is escorted home by officers, her plans for the future come crashing down by her mother's revelation that they are living in the U.S. as undocumented residents. Jimena seeks immigration counseling and quickly becomes determined to fall in love and marry for her residency. However, Jimena realizes her plans of love and citizenship are fraught, eventually dragging her neighbor and long-time friend Vitaly into helping her find a suitor.




Jimena lies at the novel's heart as a stubborn, passionate, and flawed character. Moldavksy captures a teen's brash honesty, processing the turmoil of her existential crisis. Readers can empathize with her struggles to navigate the complexities of marriage and romance and how sometimes these have to be mutually exclusive for survival.

However, one often cannot help but cringe and feel uncomfortable watching Jimena catfish older men. A green card marriage is a genuinely fraught and vulnerable situation, especially for a minor. And although Vitaly tries to deter Jimena away from the deception and the sexualization, she insists that this is her only option. She is illustrating the agonizing circumstances that the immigration system subjects so many people in this country, wanting nothing more than to live off their own volition.

The novel's greatest strength lies in its humor, abundant with Jimena's sitcom-style antics and the revolving door of failed dates that she endures. However, beneath its humorous exterior, the novel tackles the deeper issue of the broken U.S. immigration systems' impacts on the futures of so many undocumented youths - "But the immigration system is not a neat math problem you can solve with a formula. It's an abstract painting that doesn't make sense, no matter how long you stare at it and try to find meaning." Jimena's journey of navigating this sudden life-altering event is filled with the depth and complexity of being an immigrant carrying an overwhelming weight of expectations, judgment, and fear. But she is determined to regain control of what she can in this situation and pave the way for her chosen future.

Just Say Yes is a humorous and uncomfortable exploration of teen self-determination.

Shop Just Say Yes and other Decolonized Reading at the Xolo Bookstore. Want more Xolo Book Reviews? Subscribe to our Patreon and get early access to future reviews.

*Disclaimer: A galley of the book was sent by the publisher

To what extent are there BIPOC leading characters or perspectives?

​How well does the author avoid writing BIPOC experiences through the white gaze?

To what extent does the author challenge white-centered beliefs?

How well does the book explore nuances between intersectional identities?








bottom of page