Savannah has a lot on her plate. Besides being home without her sister as a buffer between Savvy and her mother, Savannah has to deal with her mother’s obsession with weight growing deeper and her pressure for Savvy to be constantly mindful of what she eats growing stronger.
Between her mom’s diet-helicoptering, missing her sister, and worrying about her collegiate future and the article she’s trying to write, Savvy has enough to worry about. Meeting George, the cute new kid at school who has insecurities of his own, lets both of them discover how to live in the moment and enjoy the here and now before it disappears.
I honestly have a lot of mixed feelings about this book.
I loved Martin’s debut–it was such a light, fun, and comical contemporary! It was sweet, funny, and a total blast to read.
And in a lot of ways, To Be Honest shares a lot of similarities with The Big F. But in a way, I feel like the similarities took away some of the good things about To Be Honest.
To Be Honest tackles a lot of more serious topics than just failing class–eating disorders and weight loss and divorce and a whole bunch of other topics that carry a lot of emotional weight for people. But I feel like it kept the same sort of jolly tone that was present in The Big F, which made the story not really click for me.
There are seriously a bunch of things jammed into this novel–Savannah’s insecurities as one of them. And for something that’s less than 300 pages, I felt like we just didn’t get enough examination of any of the themes–her mom’s fixation on weight loss, Savannah’s news story about the funding gap between the girls’ and guys’ team, Savannah’s own insecurities and her relationship with George, or Savannah’s relationship with her dad after the divorce.
I liked Savannah and thought she was definitely a fun protagonist–she has a strong voice and she’s just a great person that you’d want to be friends with. I think Savannah herself is probably the best part about this book, because she really feels super genuine.
That being said, I still think Martin did not do nearly enough examination on any of the major themes. It made it feel like Martin wasn’t taking the topics seriously, and I wish this book was longer and more drawn out.
Some of the scenes felt rushed–even the Very Bigscenes that would be life changing events. It wasn’t just that these scenes didn’t get enough page time–it was also that the emotional weight to these circumstances didn’t match the severity of the event.
What Martin did address of these themes though, I think she did very well. We learn a lot about Savannah’s insecurities and the romance is frankly, adorable, and it all wraps together pretty nicely, if not somewhat shortly.
I love how Martin talked about body positivity and weight loss especially, not just because of an #OwnVoices standpoint, but also because she points out the issue with those extreme weight loss shows and really asserts her view of loving your body.
The contrast between the view on weight & being fat of Savannah and her mom was drastically different, and this is probably one of this novel’s themes that I think Martin did the best with. I did want a little more on this, but I think this was one of the themes that was most explored with Savannah’s concern for her mother’s health and trying to find the happy medium between boundaries and concern.
Overall, I think the premise was good, but the execution made this book not as good as it could have been because the tone matched a romantic comedy rather than the more serious novel To Be Honest. If you think the premise sounds interesting, then I definitely recommend you check this out! It’s still a quick and easy read, regardless of depth.
Thank you so much to Swoon Reads @ Book Con for providing me with an advance reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review!