I really enjoyed reading Maggie Ann Martin’s debut novel, The Big F, last year so I was excited to read To Be Honest! Read my review of The Big F here!
Savannah is getting ready to start her senior year of high school and all she wants is for it to hurry up so she can join her older sister at college and get away from her mother’s constant body shaming. Ever since her mother competed on a reality show to lose weight, she’s been trying to change Savannah. Savannah is not here for that one bit, but it still makes living with it difficult. One unexpected bright spot is her best friend’s cousin, George, who Savannah befriends and tutors in math.
I really enjoyed Savannah’s voice—Maggie Ann Martin tackles some difficult topics, but she incorporates it in such a way that it seems effortless due in part to the narration. Personality wise, I loved how bold and stubborn Savannah was! I also appreciated her struggling with anxiety and panic attacks. Even with these struggles, she still put herself out there, whether that was letting George know she liked him or investigating the school’s baseball coach for some shady recruiting schemes. Her character was strong and developed and I loved seeing this in a fat main character, something that was not her only defining characteristic. I need more contemporaries like this! I wish I could have read this when I was in high school—I would have loved to see a fat girl fall in love with a guy who doesn’t even bat an eye about how she looks.
The cast of characters was also developed well. I loved her relationships with her sister Ashley and her best friend Grace and would have loved to have more page time with them. Savannah’s mom has an interesting arc, but there are a few questions I wanted answered about her health before the book ended. Savannah’s relationship with George was very sweet and I liked that they were always supportive of each other! Slight spoiler (highlight to read): towards the end they don’t talk to each other for three weeks, even after after Savannah’s mother ends up in the hospital, which didn’t really make sense to me (I get that there’s a cute make-up scene after the dance but still that’s a long time of no acknowledgment). While I loved that Savannah found passion in journalism, I was a little bummed that she changed her mind about pursuing engineering as there are not too many YA heroines interested in STEM fields.
Overall, To Be Honest was such an enjoyable read and I wish I could have read something like this when I was in high school!
*This ARC was provided to me by the publisher through Xpresso Book Tours and NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.*