Review: To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin



My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 304
Pacing: Normal
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Published: August 21st, 2018
TRIGGER WARNINGS: Fat Shaming (challenged), Neglect, Verbally Abusive Parents, Mental Illness, Panic Attacks and Eating Disorders. 


Savannah is dreading being home alone with her overbearing mother after her sister goes off to college. But if she can just get through senior year, she’ll be able to escape to college, too. What she doesn’t count on is that her mother’s obsession with weight has only grown deeper since her appearance on an extreme weight-loss show, and now Savvy’s mom is pressuring her even harder to be constantly mindful of what she eats.

Between her mom’s diet-helicoptering, missing her sister, and worrying about her collegiate future, Savvy has enough to worry about. And then she meets George, the cute new kid at school who has insecurities of his own. As Savvy and George grow closer, they help each other discover how to live in the moment and enjoy the here and now before it disappears. – Synopsis by Goodreads

“It was one of those disappointments that confirmed your every fear that you’d somehow kept at bay with the tiniest sliver of hope.” 

OMG do we have actual good fat rep?!?! Even a model on the cover who is a beautiful fat model! I’m in heaven! Thank you to the book gods for making this happen! I wish I had this type of novel when I was younger.

I’m always saying I don’t really enjoy fluffy contemporary but I really should retract that and say that I don’t enjoy fluffy contemporary that is straight, pretty white kids with zero rep of any kind. I just don’t relate at all and never would have. I do love diverse or geeky contemporary a lot though and this was such a pleasure to read. It also was a little more hard hitting in parts, so not completely fluff.

I have to start off by talking about the HEALTHY fat rep of of main character Savannah. I know having a fat girl on the cover on a book that isn’t called something like “Fat Girl on a Plane” or “Blubber” meant so much to so many people. Me included. Btw, not shading those books – it’s just hard being a fat girl and all the books that include you having an embarrassing title. At least that is how I feel. I hope we see a lot more healthy representation like this on covers.

Our main girl, Savannah is dealing with a mother, who recently divorced, became obsessed with losing weight and was a weight loss show and now is a poster child for it. Savannah and her mother have a very strained relationship at best and her sister, Ashley (whom she is very close to) is moving away to college – which means she will have to deal with her mother’s obsessive ways by herself. This what the story focuses around the most – her family and coping with all the new changes and challenges. She does have a few other things going on though, such as a new boy taking interest in her and doing an expose piece on the boys sports team with her best friend Grace.

I really loved all the female relationships in this book. She has such a lovely and healthy relationship with her sister and her best friend. Both are supportive and loving and even when they have an argument it’s not the end of the world and they figure it out. In YA novels, we see too many poor examples being shown of strong, healthy female friendships. Women are usually pitted against each other and competitive, this is not the case at all in the book. It gives me the warm and fuzzies just thinking about it – please give us more of this! This is what we should be showing young people as the standard, not the exception.

I found the story line with her mom a very difficult relationship to read about. I think many young girls will likely relate to this one. Savannah’s mother is becoming quickly more and more obsessed with weight and healthy foods. She doesn’t flat out call Savannah names but she makes a lot of remarks to her about her weight and getting healthier. Thankfully Savannah is very confident in herself and doesn’t feel bad about her body but it still hurts her to have her mother say things, particularly in front of her friends. As the obsession gets worse, we can see that Savannah’s mother is becoming increasing erratic and unhealthy. It’s hard to watch from all angles and really spotlights the pressures women are put under about their appearance.

Savannah does catch the attention of a new boy, Charlie, and he seems pretty interested in her right from the start but she is worried that she is reading his signals wrong and he likely sees her as just a friend because of rejection she has experienced in the past. This one hit home, I struggled with my weight off and on for years as a younger person and whenever anyone showed interest in me I would always question it because it seemed like it couldn’t be possible that someone might be attracted to me when I wasn’t a size 2 like my friends. I think this a pretty common inner dialogue for women regardless of size, so that felt very genuine. I liked their relationship at the beginning, it was really sweet and they were both kind of cute oddballs. I was def digging it. However, Charlie kind of dicked her around a lot because of his own insecurities and kept hurting her because of it and I had a hard time rooting for this couple in the end. I guess I just didn’t think his reasons were good enough but I feel fairly protective of Savannah, so maybe I’m just being too hard on him.

We also get some very accurate anxiety and panic attack rep in this book. I see panic attacks constantly shown as something you can push through or choose when to control them. For anyone that has ever had a real panic attack (which is completely different from an anxiety attack) knows that this is a huge joke and the book gives us perfect examples of how scary and also humiliating it can be to suffer from these attacks. When Savannah gets hit with them there is nothing she can do but go through it – as messy as it is. Yes, it makes a scene and people stare but that is what happens and I really loved how it was handled in this book.

Overall, this is a fantastic book and if you are looking for some great fat and mental health rep, you’ve got it in spades here. I’ll definitely be checking out the next book by this author.



7 thoughts on “Review: To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin

  1. Wonderful review! This sounds like a great read and I love your point about wanting books with fat MC’s that don’t have titles like “Blubber”. I’d never thought about it before, but most of the books I’ve read with fat MC’s do have titles like that and it seems so unnecessary. And I LOVE this cover!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes and as a fat girl, I don’t love going to the register with a book called Blubber in my hand. It feels embarrassing or something to me. I just love the idea of a pretty fat girl being on the cover with a normal name. Thank you so much for the comment ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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