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To Be Honest


News flash: FAT isn't a bad word.

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Full Description

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.


“All right, now it’s time for the three-legged race. We’re going to go in waves of five and do it bracket style. Come to me to grab your team’s rope and get prepared,” Mrs. M said.

Grace sat on the ground, joining her leg with one of her younger cousins. I suddenly felt self-conscious about the short shorts I chose to wear over my swimsuit. Imagining my jiggiling thigh having to be tied up to a stranger’s was my version of a nightmare. Would he notice the stretch marks that striped down my inner thighs? Would he be disgusted by me when he saw them?

It suddenly felt like all of the air had been pushed out of my lungs. I swayed on my feet as the ringing in my ears began. No matter how many panic attacks I had, my body always believed that it was dying. My body told me that I couldn’t catch my breath, that I was going to actually die in Sandcastle Park in my polka dotted swimsuit before I even got to eat lunch.

I plopped onto the ground and put my head between my legs, trying to catch my breath again. George’s voice played over the pounding of my heart and the ringing in my ears, but I couldn’t understand what he was saying. I squinted my eyes closed in an effort to make everything stop. My body didn’t listen.


An NPR Best YA Book of 2018

"The portrayal of Savvy’s mother’s eating disorder is sensitive and will resonate strongly with readers close to this issue. ... Savvy’s story is a welcome one in today’s YA market and will help spread a much-needed message to teens about parental mental health issues and the potential dangers of diet culture. A first purchase for libraries serving adolescents." —School Library Journal, starred review

"I cannot tell you how incredibly refreshing this is! I love that the book, itself, is not obsessed with its plus-size main character. Maggie Ann Martin actually allows us to look past Savvy's weight into other aspects of her life, and it's a shame that books like this are so few and far between... To Be Honest is a super sweet book about a young girl who's life is a bit of a mess. But, to be honest, isn't that all of us?" —NPR

"To Be Honest captures the struggle to be proud of who you are and to find the courage to live boldly, no matter your shape or size, an idea that is wonderful to see presented to teen audiences. For fans of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Dumplin’, Maggie Ann Martin’s latest is sure to please both teens and adults alike who are in search of a moving and heartwarming story." —GERM Magazine

"This summer read tackles difficult subjects—anxiety and mental health, eating disorders, and more—while still keeping it a light and fun story about all kinds of love: parental, sibling, friendship, romantic, and most importantly, loving yourself." —Bustle

"To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin took my emotions on a joyride and didn’t let them off until the very end. More and more Young Adult novels are featuring serious themes even though it’s not the focus of the book and I absolutely love it. If this story sounds like your cup of tea, I highly recommend picking it up." —The Young Folks

"This is a super sweet novel that’s surprisingly lighthearted despite some of the pretty serious issues dealt with throughout (eating disorders, living with anxiety, complicated family dynamics, etc.). ... Savvy is unerringly body positive (with some occasional moments of insecurity, just like anyone)." —Book Riot

"To Be Honest breaks down the ways criticism masked as concern can be so harmful to young women. And it’s an empowering reminder to love our bodies, regardless of size." —HelloGiggles

"Unapologetically promotes healthy body image and love for oneself. Savvy and her mother provide the reader with diametrically opposed perspectives concerning the psychological impact of body shaming: Savvy possesses a strong, positive image while her mother derives self-worth from a scale. ... Educators and librarians seeking literature that resonates with female readers who struggle with body image will want to add this novel to their shelves." —VOYA

"To be honest...we loved the latest novel by Maggie Ann Martin! ... With her [Savannah], Martin has created a beautifully rendered portrait of a high school senior. She feels real and interesting, and like someone who you’d definitely want to drive around blasting Eminem with, if only because that’s her favorite past time!" —Hypable

"A refreshing YA contemporary novel that wrestles with self-love, anxiety, and family. ... I would imagine people who loved Leah on the Offbeat, The Upside of Unrequited, or Turtles All the Way Down will also love this novel." —Better Books and Other Things

"I freaking adore this book! To Be Honest is the most honest young adult contemporary novel I have read in a while ... this book is worth every penny." —It's A Book Life

"This book was impossible to put down from the moment I started reading, and I flew through it so quickly that I could honestly read it again ... I'm so thankful to Maggie Ann Martin for writing this fantastic book and to Swoon Reads for publishing it!" —My Endless Shelf

"To Be Honest had me laughing and I even shed a few tears. Savannah is such a smart and strong character who is doing her best to love her body." —The Book Dutchesses

"If you are a fan of realistic high school stories, tulle skirts, and watching young love struggle to ignite, definitely give To Be Honest a read. I loved the story and the characters and of course the white poodle named Fiyero." —Rants and Raves of A Bibliophile

"To Be Honest has to be one of the most honest reads out there today!" —Bookish Wisps

The Big F:

"A debut novel sure to resonate with high schoolers who eagerly anticipate graduation and the start of college. . . . Danielle is a savvy, likable character with whom teens will easily identify. . . . Romance fans will enjoy this fast-paced story that features an interesting set of characters and satisfying conclusion." —School Library Journal

"Danielle is a likeable character who tries to do the right thing. Readers will have confidence in her even when she sometimes lacks self-assurance. . . . An easy, enjoyable read." —VOYA

"'When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.' I’m pretty sure that that quote epitomizes The Big F. . . . Fun, cute, and totally relatable." —Book Allure