‘To Be Honest’ Review: Body Positivity, Mother-Daughter Relationships, and High School Drama

    Savannah’s life has slowly changed into one she doesn’t even recognize, one with her sister going off to college and her mother losing weight and starring on the television show Shake the Weight. To Be Honest is a romantic, complicated, and important story that captures the angst of teen life, the complications of family life, and the wonder of first relationships. Maggie Ann Martin has written a story that simultaneously entertains and provides a message about body image that is needed in YA, giving teens of all shapes and sizes a heroine to root for as she navigates life without her sister and her new relationship with George, the last person she thought she’d be with.

    To Be Honest begins with Savannah, who is adjusting to the absence of her sister as she takes on the challenge of college, leaving Savannah lonely and defenseless against her mother’s hurtful attitude about her eating habits. With television crews coming to interview her about her mother’s transformation on the show Shake the Weight and being assigned to tutor a boy named George, Savannah is overwhelmed without anyone to support her. Trying her best to mend her relationship and move on with her life, Savannah must open herself up to new beginnings and try to pave her own path for the very first time.

    Martin’s To Be Honest was simply delightful to read. Each page of her novel is covered in relevant, hopeful, and positive messages for teenagers, specifically for teen girls. From the fantastic cover that celebrates body positivity to Savannah’s brave and unique narrative, I found To Be Honest to be a well-needed burst of fresh air in the YA genre, looking at family dynamics and body image in a new and unique way. I highly recommend this contemporary romance for anyone looking for a non-traditional story about a real girl facing real teen issues. Relevant. Needed. Beautiful. Uplifting. This story has it all.

    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.

    Joshua Flores currently lives in Tustin, CA, and attends Arnold O. Beckman High School. When he is not busy doing homework or cramming for math tests, he can be found dreaming up ideas for his book, obsessing over YA fiction, attending book signings, or discovering new and exciting places in LA. He is currently an editor for the Entertainment section of The Beckman Chronicle and a contributing editor for the blog Food, Fitness and Fiction. Follow him on Instagram and on the blog Food, Fitness and Fiction to hear more about anything book related.


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