Reviewed by Alexandra Someillan
DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHERS: You should know, right now, that I’m a liar.
They’re usually little lies. Tiny lies. Baby lies. Not so much lies as lie adjacent.
But they’re still lies.
Twenty one-year-old Max Monroe has it all: beauty, friends, and a glittering life filled with adventure. With tons of followers on Instagram, her picture-perfect existence seems eminently enviable.
Except it’s all fake.
Max is actually 17-year-old Kat Sanchez, a quiet and sarcastic teenager living in drab Bakersfield, California. Nothing glamorous in her existence—just sprawl, bad house parties, a crap school year, and the awkwardness of dealing with her best friend Hari’s unrequited love.
But while Kat’s life is far from perfect, she thrives as Max: doling out advice, sharing beautiful photos, networking with famous influencers, even making a real friend in a follower named Elena. The closer Elena and “Max” get—texting, Snapping, and even calling—the more Kat feels she has to keep up the façade.
But when one of Max’s posts goes ultra-viral and gets back to the very person she’s been stealing photos from, her entire world – real and fake — comes crashing down around her. She has to figure out a way to get herself out of the huge web of lies she’s created without hurting the people she loves.
But it might already be too late.
MY TWO CENTS: After reading her second book, No Filter and Other Lies, Crystal Maldonado has become one of my official auto-buy authors. There is something about Crystal Maldonado’s writing that always brings me to tears and makes me feel all the feelings for the characters she creates!
One of my first impressions of the main character Kat Sanchez is that I loved how secure she was in her body and never felt a need to hide her beautiful, fat, brown body. We need many stories about fat and queer characters who accept their bodies, especially since women constantly get bombarded with unrealistic beauty standards in social media.
Despite Kat being secure with herself, she is flawed and not inherently likable. She does some awful things in the novel that does severe damage. However, there was still a vulnerability that showed the dichotomy of the character. Even though she did terrible things, I still cared for her and wanted to be that big sister to shake some sense into her.
The feeling that Kat had of not being seen or validated is something that many people can relate to, especially regarding the harmful effects of social media and the inherent racism behind it. However, sometimes it can be uncomfortable to admit it. Still, we are all guilty of playing the comparison game and fooling ourselves into thinking someone’s life in social media is perfect when in reality, it couldn’t be further from the truth.
Even though Kat did terrible things throughout the book that made me want to scream at her repeatedly, this book did tug at my heartstrings. One of the things I loved was a bond she developed with a dog that made me cry tears of joy. In addition, the family dynamics were well-written, and the close bond she has with her Abuelos and how they support her, even when she did unforgivable things, warmed my heart because of how loving and kind they were. Kat also has a great support system of friends who are there for Kat through her worst moments, and I loved reading how they interacted and learned from one another through their hardships.
No Filter and Other Lies perfectly articulates the pressures of social media and the need to construct the perfect version of yourself and how,little by little, that veneer of perfection cracks over time. If you’re looking for a fat, brown, messy bi-sexual character who struggles through the pressures of social media, this is the book for you!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her website): Crystal Maldonado is a young adult author with a lot of feelings. Her debut novel, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega, is a 2021 New England Book Award winner, a Cosmopolitan Best New Book, and a POPSUGAR Best New YA Novel. Her next novel, No Filter and Other Lies, explores teenage life in the social media age—and the lies we tell to ourselves and others.
By day, Crystal works in higher ed marketing, and by night, she’s a writer who loves Beyoncé, glitter, shopping, and spending too much time on her phone. Her work has been published in Latina, BuzzFeed, and the Hartford Courant.
She lives in western Massachusetts with her husband, daughter, and dog. Find her everywhere @crystalwrote or crystalwrote.com.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER: Alexandra Someillan is a freelance book reviewer and teacher who lives in Miami, FL. She has written for Frolic Media, where she has raved about her favorite Latinx romances. Currently, she has been accepted in the Las Musas mentorship and is working on her Latinx contemporary novel with Nina Moreno. Usually, you can find Alexandra obsessing over nineties pop culture and eating too many pastelitos.