Young adult author Crystal Maldonado reads an excerpt from her sophomore book, No Filter and Other Lies. 

In the passage, we meet 17-year-old Kat Sanchez, a quiet and sarcastic teenager. Sanchez gets the idea to make up a separate identity on social media – an event that shapes the course of the novel.  

Learn more about Maldonado and her career in our full feature interview with the author.  

Read the full transcript:

Crystal Maldonado, Author: Hi everyone. So, I am the author of “No Filter and Other Lies.” My name is Crystal Maldonado.

This book tells the story of 17-year-old Kat Sanchez as she kind of falls down a rabbit hole of catfishing on Instagram. So, we follow her as she has these dual lives, one that’s perfect and absolutely fake, and one that is real and crumbling because she’s lying.

So, I’m going to read a little excerpt from it. This is from chapter one. We’ve just met Kat and her friends, and they have just taken some photos out in the desert of the night sky.

Somewhere between the quiet of the road and the smooth thrum of the car, I doze off. And next thing I know, I’m being gently shaken awake. It’s Hari.

 “Hey,” he says, giving me a soft smile. “We’re home.”

 I rub some of the sleep away before climbing out of Marcus’s car. He’s dropped the two of us off at the corner of the road where Hari and my parents live so we can walk home and get back into our houses undetected. It’s late now, later than either of us should be out, so we’ll each have to sneak back in.

Hari slings his bag over his shoulder and starts to walk down the street. I fall into an easy rhythm beside him. We’ve got this routine down. Hari and I will walk right past my parents’ house so I can go to my actual home, one street over: my grandparents house.

 Once he’s dropped me off, Hari will double back and go home himself, and I’ll text him to make sure he got there okay, like a good friend always should.

 “Think you managed to get something that’ll work for Mr. Griffin’s class?” Hari asks.

 “Yeah, I think so. He’s a pretty easy grader,” I say.

 “That’s true. And your stuff is great,” he says.

“Thank you.” I smile at him, appreciating the compliment, even though I know my stuff is good. Better than Hari’s, no offense, despite him having a way nicer collection of lenses than I do.

 Definitely better than Luis’s. He phones every assignment in, often literally taking photos with his phone. It’s on par with Marcus’s work, and sometimes even better, though, he has really nailed his style and I’m still figuring mine out.

 “How about you?” I ask. “Did you manage to get anything before Luis started being the most annoying person on the planet?”

 Hari laughs a little, “Yeah, I got a few, I think. Do you think Mr. Griffin is going to be upset that we have the same subject for our art assignment? Because I’ll get something else.”

 I shake my head. “No, he is way too nice to care. We’re his favorites.”

 “Make sense,” Hari says. “We are the best after all.”

 “Right. The best.”

  We definitely are, at least in art. No doubt the four of us are extremely talented.

 But one thing has been gnawing at me, especially lately. If my work is so good, how come it flops every time I share it on Instagram?

 It makes me so upset. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, but my account is practically dead. Just over 200 followers, way less than 50 likes per photo, and next to zero comments.

 Yet my esthetic on the account is amazing. Pull me up on your phone and look at my grid. Every single picture is serving a vibe and a color scheme and a mood and they look good as a whole. That is hard work.

 No one appreciates how much tweaking and editing goes into photos to make them all feel different enough to be interesting, but similar enough to go together. And I’ve nailed that.

 Plus, my photos are mostly street fashion, with a focus on stylish Black and brown kids, like my friends and me. Which come on!

 So, what is it then?

 I see so many people effortlessly rack up followers. I don’t want Twitter fame. I don’t want to be a TikTok star. I want to be recognized for my art. I just want my perspective as an artist and a human being to mean something. To reach someone.