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OFF THE RECORD by Camryn Garrett

The behind-the-scenes access of Almost Famous meets the searing revelations of #metoo in this story of a teen journalist who uncovers the scandal of the decade.

Ever since seventeen-year-old Josie Wright can remember, writing has been her identity, the thing that grounds her when everything else is a garbage fire. So when she wins a contest to write a celebrity profile for Deep Focus magazine, she’s equal parts excited and scared, but also ready. She’s got this.

Soon Josie is jetting off on a multi-city tour, rubbing elbows with sparkly celebrities, frenetic handlers, stone-faced producers, and eccentric stylists. She even finds herself catching feelings for the subject of her profile, dazzling young newcomer Marius Canet. Josie’s world is expanding so rapidly, she doesn’t know whether she’s flying or falling. But when a young actress lets her in on a terrible secret, the answer is clear: she’s in over her head.

One woman’s account leads to another and another. Josie wants to expose the man responsible, but she’s reluctant to speak up, unsure if this is her story to tell. What if she lets down the women who have entrusted her with their stories? What if this ends her writing career before it even begins? There are so many reasons not to go ahead, but if Josie doesn’t step up, who will?

From the author of Full Disclosure, this is a moving testament to the #MeToo movement, and all the ways women stand up for each other.

Title : Off the Record
Author : Camryn Garett
Format : eARC
Page Count : 320
Genre : YA contemporary
Publisher : Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date : May 18, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★

Hollis’ 3 star review

Oof, I feel pulled in a lot of directions right now, and hope I manage to do an okay job at explaining my thoughts with this one. But I think, not unlike another contemporary I’ve read this year (likely more than one, actually..) the main issues I had with Off The Record is that I think it’s just trying to do too many things.

While reading this book I had actually forgotten what the main plot point was going to be because I felt like it just took too long to get there. Which naturally made the catch-up, the acceleration of it all, that much more.. frantic. Balancing this whirlwind adventure after having won a write-in contest to interview an upcoming actor, catching feels, making friends, battling anxiety, body issues, slowly realizing said friends had experienced something terrible, being convinced to write about it in addition to the profile on the actor, have a romance, bond with a sister.. there are a lot of spinning plates.

In addition to all that, there’s also some good discourse over separating art from artists, which is something I know we all struggle with; more and more each day.

I don’t necessarily think anything beyond the romance really suffered for being rushed (Marius was such a soft lovely human but to be honest I wasn’t really convinced by the connection) but there’s also the suspension of disbelief over how quickly all the pieces fell into place for the big climax.

Sadly I also don’t think I liked any of the characters. No one was awful beyond the villain of the piece (though the main sister dynamic was tough for the majority of the story) but I was reading for the story, even oddly paced as it was, more than the characters. I’m not sure why I didn’t like anyone; not even Marcus, despite his soft loveliness — but I definitely felt for them. Josie’s anxiety overwhelming her, the mixed feelings about her weight and acceptance of her body, I could connect so well to both. But there was just.. something. I can’t put my finger on it.

The subject matter of this story is very relevant and important — and, of course, trigger warnings surround the whole issue so please be conscious of that — and despite my mixed overall feelings I definitely recommend people still pick this up.

Also, as always, you should take my review and my rating with a grain of salt. Though none of my criticisms touch on anything non-plot specific, please prioritize #ownvoice reviews over my own.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

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