No Filter and Other Lies (Crystal Maldonado)

No Filter and Other Lies is the second novel by Crystal Maldonado.
Finished on: 4.3.2022

Kat loves photography, and she has carefully curated her instagram to show the best of her photos. Nevertheless, her follower count remains low – much lower than her best friends’, Hari, Marcus and Luis. She suspects this might have to do with the fact that she is fat and Brown. After a fight with Hari, with whom she has been making out despite the naggling suspicion that he likes her more than she him, Kat makes a bad decision: she takes the photos of her friend Becca who is blond, thin, beautiful and not on social media and creates a fake account with them. Kat starts regretting it pretty immediately but when the account keeps raking in likes and this really cute girl, Elena, starts messaging the fake profile, Kat can’t quite give it up.

No Filter and Other Lies is cute and has a queer, fat Latina as the protagonist which is something I am completely here for. And yet, it didn’t quite make me happy.

The book cover showing a drawing of a fat Latina with a camera. Behind her a snapshots of a fat girl with pink hair, a blond girl, and a Brown guy.

We all know that there are way too few books with queer protagonists, with fat protagonists, and with protagonists of color. To get a combination of all three is like finding a unicorn. And since I really enjoyed Maldonado’s first novel (Fat Chance, Charlie Vega), I was really looking forward to reading it.

I have to admit that I was a little disappointed by the ending, though. I absolutely know where Maldonado is coming from: Kat does some very bad things and they don’t remain without consequences. Not all hurt can be forgiven, and if you do shitty things, you may very well actually lose friends. I get it, and I do appreciate it that it doesn’t all disappear into a happy ending as is often the case with romances. (Contrasted by the ease with which Kat’s friends take her revelations.)

But it did leave me a little bitter that it was the queer relationship that doesn’t get a HEA. In fact, all of Kat’s relationships with women and girls are obliterated (except for the relationship with her grandmother) which feels pretty weird. But especially the lack of romantic HEA rubbed me the wrong way – because queer stories seem to end unhappily much more than straight ones when you look at the fiction around us. At least there is a meet-cute for a new relationship at the very end of the book, though it is not expanded on.

Other than that, though, I really enjoyed reading the novel. It’s a quick, well-written read that is often funny despite the many shitty things Kat does and her rather heavy family situation. Plus, I think I finally understand now why people use instagram stories (I have never felt older than when insta introduced stories. I just didn’t get it).

Overall, I’d say I did like it, but it just didn’t speak to me as much as Fat Chance, Charlie Vega.

Summarizing: definitely worth reading.

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