To Be Honest
by Maggie Ann Martin
Savannah is dreading being home alone with her overbearing mother after her big sister―and best friend―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.
To Be Honest is another sharp, witty novel from Maggie Ann Martin, about a spunky heroine who is dealing with very real issues―body image, parental pressure, loneliness, first love, and finding your way―with heart and humor.
This book was not what I thought it was going to be.
It was better.
I started reading To Be Honest expecting a love story with the back drop of the issues of a fat girl. Since I am a fat girl (woman. whatever.), I was curious as to how the protagonist's size would be treated. Big people are not usually written about, and when we are written about - we usually hate ourselves etc. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book did not follow the formula I usually find in other stories. Beware - spoilers.
Savvy is having some difficulty because her sister, who is also her best friend, is going off to college - leaving her behind with the shadow of her mother. Their mother had been a part of a weight-loss show that appears to have had a less than healthy effect on her and the family. Aside from that, Savvy is busy focusing on her journalism efforts with her other, non sister best friend, Grace, and trying to figure out what is going on between her and Grace's cousin, George.
Instead of the focus being on Savvy's would-be love life, the focus was actually on Savvy herself. The author focused on the struggles Savvy has with her mother who back-handedly insults Savvy's body, the disappointment of having a father who prioritizes his new wife over his daughter, the adjustment of having her sister at college, and THEN comes the trouble with how George feels about her. Through all these experiences, we get to know Savvy - the anxiety and panic she feels in certain situations, how she actually loves how she looks, but is cut down by comments her mother makes, or when she thinks about how her best friend is treated differently because of their size difference.
Not once does Savvy turn bitter at the women around her for them being smaller than she is. Savvy's concern for her mother is more about her mother's moods and overall health than any kind of jealousy. Savvy has also learned to be strong - maybe too strong that is translating as too tough to be around, something Grace helps her to see.
Then after everything we have George. He is adorable as he is infuriating. Once he explains himself, it makes more sense - but I don't blame you if you want to smack him in the meantime. I know I did.
All in all - I was surprised when I turned the last page (not knowing it was the last page) to find the story had ended. This was not because the author failed to write a well-rounded story, no, it was because I wanted to learn more about Savvy - especially after her receiving validation from her family, George, and herself.
The only downfall for me about this story is that some things were wrapped up together too quickly, like the journalism project and Savvy's decision to possibly attend school for journalism. I was totally for that direction - I just thought she accepted it a bit too quickly for an anxious person haha (did I mention I also have anxiety?).
Even with that in mind - I definitely recommend this book for all readers. I'd love to know what you think, so feel free to let me know!