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Crystal Maldonado is a young adult author who writes inclusive stories about plus-sized Brown girls. Courtesy photo

Would you lie online for clout?

Crystal Maldonado’s second novel 'No Filter and Other Lies' tells the story of a plus-sized Latina girl who doesn't love herself

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Golden-haired Max Monroe has it all: Beauty, friends, and tons of followers. Her picture-perfect existence seems eminently enviable.

Except it's all fake.

"Max" is actually Kat Sanchez, a shy, plus-sized Brown 17-year-old girl with a love for photography and social media. Sanchez, who lives in Bakersfield, California, is the protagonist of No Filter and Other Lies, the latest novel by Crystal Maldonado, author of smash-hit 2021 New England Book Award Winner Fat Chance, Charlie Vega. (also available in Spanish: Charlie Vega tiene un problema gordo)

Like in her debut novel, Maldonado, a Western Massachusetts native of Latino descent, finds inspiration on the pain and anxiety of growing up as a plus-size Latina in a small New England town.

"Writing a non-fiction piece where you're talking about your personal experience is really putting yourself out there and making yourself very vulnerable," Maldonado told NBC in 2021.

Opening up about her high school experiences felt particularly sensitive, because even most of her friends and family didn't know what she had gone through.

In this second novel, Maldonado focuses on Kat’s life, which is not glamorous at all — just bad house parties, a crap school year, and the awkwardness of dealing with 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 fans, and even finding a real friend (or more?—Is Kat into girls!?) in a gorgeous plus-sized follower named Elena. But the closer Elena and "Max" get, the more Kat feels she has to keep up the façade. "Max" is the first time people have really listened to what Kat has to say — and after a lifetime of invisibility (including ice-cold indifference from her parents) can she really give that up?

But when one of Kat's posts goes viral and gets back to the girl she's been stealing photos from, her entire world — real and fake — comes crashing down around her. Can she escape the web of lies she's woven without hurting the people she loves?

This insightful, provocative novel — hilarious and raw by turns — deftly addresses FOMO, first love, one-sided love, frayed family ties, raced exclusion on social media, queer awakenings, and learning to live with — and love — yourself.

maldonado
Crystal Maldonado. (Courtesy of the author)

About the author

Crystal Maldonado is a young adult author who writes inclusive stories about plus-sized Brown girls. By day, Crystal works in higher ed marketing, and by night, she is a writer whose work has been published in Latina, BuzzFeed, and the Hartford Courant. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English and Journalism, with a minor in women’s studies, from the University of Connecticut. She currently lives in western Massachusetts with her husband, daughter, and dog.

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