To Be Honest, by Maggie Ann Martin
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Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: August 21, 2018
Length: 304 pages
Times Read: Once
Rating: Body Positivity FTW
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.
What I Liked: I really liked that for a book that discussed body image and a mother that was so obsessed with diet and weight, Savvy herself really wasn’t. She never thought about her weight, or how her clothes were fitting, or if someone was looking at her funny. It just wasn’t on her mind, which was super refreshing.
♥ Savvy. Savannah is a smart girl, and as a girl who is personally SUPER BAD at math, I enjoyed reading about a girl who was really good at it. She tutors the new guy and never feels like she needs to pretend she’s not smart to impress him. She also has great relationships with her sister and her best friend, and she doesn’t put up with her mom’s shit.
♥ Ashley & Grace. Ashley, Savvy’s older sister, is just leaving for college at the start of the book. She and Savvy are used to hanging out all the time, and used to handling their mother together. Now Ashley is going away, and beginning life on her own. Savvy has a hard time dealing with this for awhile, because it leaves her alone with her mom’s diet obsession and helicopter “concern”. Grace is Savvy’s best friend, and she’s so loyal, so kind, and so there for Savvy. Even though Savvy’s new romantic interest is her cousin, she’s always on Savvy’s side first.
♥ George. Speaking of romantic interests, George is so sweet. The romance is awkward and slow-burning, but it doesn’t overpower the story. It was good to see a nice guy getting a nice girl, with a low level of drama. The only thing keeping them apart was in George’s head.
♥ The Mom. Don’t get me wrong, I fully hated Savvy and Ashley’s mom. She was the worst. But I liked that the problems she brought in were shown. Since coming home from competing on a Biggest Loser-type show, all she talks about is weight, food, diet, and exercise. She talks about them in relation to herself, and to Savvy. She’s “concerned” about Savvy’s weight, “concerned” about her health, and all it does is make Savvy feel like shit. All that “I’m concerned about your health” speech does is make anyone feel like shit, and it was SO GOOD to have someone, especially a girl in YA, express that so clearly.
Also, and look, I know that I don’t have kids of my own and I don’t have a clue what it takes to really be a parent, but I know that step number 1 is to PLEASE. DON’T. BRING. YOUR. SHIT. HOME. TO. YOUR. KIDS. Whatever personal bullshit you have going on, don’t make it your kid’s problem. Don’t make them deal with your stuff. Don’t make them worry about your problems. Don’t make them parent you.
What I Didn’t: Not much! Could have used more time with Grace, and definitely could have used more of an apology from Mom in the end. It didn’t feel like she saw that she had emotionally harmed Savvy in any way.
⊗ The Journalism. It’s not even that I didn’t like this subplot, because I actually did. I liked watching two teenage girls take down the high school coach, but the plot point felt a little bit unnecessary.
Favorite Quotes: “I’m sorry that someone taught you to hate yourself because of your body somewhere along the way, but I’m not going to let you pull me down with you.”