YouTuber Hunter March is getting real with old and new fans alike in his new book TBH: 51 True Story Collabs. Hunter teamed up with his best friends and fellow celebs to weigh in on all things love, relationships, embarrassing moments and life struggles in the most relatable way, making this compilation of short stories a must-read for summer. See what Hunter has to say about the writing process, his inspiration and the friends who made the journey worthwhile. Plus, get the inside scoop on the book in our interview with Hunter below!

Justine Magazine: What inspired you to write this book?

Hunter March: When I was in high school I had a really hard time finishing books. I had a lot of attention issues. But whenever I read short stories or poems, I would finish them and I would understand them. And I was like, “Wow, this is really powerful. I can’t imagine how much more powerful a whole book would be.” So when I wrote this I wanted to make sure that readers would feel accomplished even if they only had the attention span to read a couple of stories, or only one story, a few pages. I think the other reason I did this was because I have all these amazing friends who all have these incredible stories that I’ve heard them tell time and time again, but they didn’t have an opportunity to write an entire book, just like I couldn’t have probably filled up an entire book. So I felt like this was a great way to get everyone’s incredible stories, stories that I could never tell. Like stories about getting your first period. I could never tell that story. And I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to tell that story.

JM: What was it like retelling these stories, especially the tougher ones like the one about your middle school birthday party when no one showed up?

HM: The birthday in middle school is the one that no one came to. Literally, I had 20 invitations, I passed them out, and no one came. It was really tough then because I was really insecure about my friendships. All I wanted was for people to like me, which is probably why I joined the entertainment industry! And to have no one come was pretty heartbreaking for me as a kid, but I think it was more heartbreaking for my father. He said he read the story and was close to tears thinking that he was a part of it. But all he did was try to help. All anybody did was try to get me to have a good birthday. So, reflecting on it, I think it’s a lot easier now to look back and say, “That was okay.” On the actual day it was the worst thing in the world; I was never going to get over it. But now it’s a story in a book. That’s all it is. That’s the extent of it. It didn’t have lasting damage on me. If anything, the effect it had on me was positive. It helped me understand that if you want to be liked by people, you have to be nice to people. You have to be kind and generous with your time and with who you are as a person. I think the lesson that I took from that is so much more powerful than the damage that it did to me as a kid in that moment.

JM: What would you say to someone who is in middle school or high school and is dealing with friend issues?

HM: It took me so long to figure out who my friends were. I tried so hard to be friends with people that I thought were cool, people that I thought I should be friends with, but we had nothing in common. We weren’t friends. They had their own friends. I just didn’t want to be with the people that I was most like, the kids who liked theater and improv and doing weird stuff after school. Also, I wanted to be friends with everybody, when I now know that being friends with one person and being really good friends is so much better than being friends with every single person in your state. That has no value. Being friends with one person and knowing that you have someone all the time. This story wouldn’t have been a story if one person had shown up at my party, but I didn’t make the effort to connect with one person. I tried to connect with everybody and be cool about it. That’s not being genuine with myself or anybody.

JM: You also talk about trying to mimic your friend’s personality instead of embracing your own. How can a person find out more about who they are and embrace it?

HM: Again, I was trying to be the kid that I wasn’t. I was trying to be friends with everybody. If someone wanted a quiet friend, I tried to be quiet. If someone wanted an obnoxious friend, I became obnoxious. That’s how everybody knew that I was fake. That’s one of the reasons I called the book To Be Honest. Not only is it about true stories, but being honest is so much more than not telling lies. It’s about being honest with who you are and accepting it, and accepting other people. So I just realized that I wasn’t the quiet one, no matter how loved the quiet friend of mine was—I just wasn’t that person. He loved me because I talked and he was quiet. Once I figured out that I was a talker and that I enjoyed having conversations, I just tried to hone in on what made that fun and what made other people enjoy that about me. It took a long time.

JM: What was it like collaborating with your close friends on this book?

HM: These are by far the most supportive people in my life. I knew some of their stories, but I didn’t know all the details. I think this book just showed me the generosity of some people, and how much good generosity could do. These stories are relatable on such a raw, human level.

JM: Is there one topic in the book that you feel the most passionate about?

HM: I wanted to get across the stories about friendship and the stories about love, just because that’s what I’ve personally dealt with the most. If you just look at this book, it looks like a group of friends that anyone would be envious to have and I respect them so much. None of us pretends to be anyone other than who we are. We love each other. In terms of other stories, I wanted to make sure there was a good mix, and I had to do little to no work to make sure my friends had those stories. They were all ready to go.

JM: You’ve had so many successes at a young age, but in your book you also talk about your challenges. Was there ever a moment when you just thought about giving up?

HM: In terms of my career, I never had lofty expectations that needed to be immediate. It was always like, “I’m having so much fun doing what I love, as long as I keep doing it, I’m happy.” So I’ve never really had that moment in my career. But there was actually one moment last year when I was doing a talk show. We had done a lot of episodes, but there just wasn’t a lot of viewership on it. That really made me wonder why I was putting all this effort into something that no one was watching. I just thought there was no value in it. But I realized after I booked the game show that that was all the best practice I could have ever had. That’s just one example of probably thousands in my life of something that turned into something better later.