Hi everyone! Today I’m going to be reviewing Off The Record by Camryn Garrett.
Off The Record follows our protagonist, Josie, on her first paid journalism assignment. When Josie wins a writing competition she is beyond thrilled – who wouldn’t want to write a cover page story for one of the biggest magazines while travelling across five cities in America? However, Josie soon realises that there’s more to fame than it seems, and, when her interviews start revealing a darker side to the industry, she is faced with the impossible decision of how to proceed.
Off The Record was definitely one of those books that make you think. It covered several prominent issues in society today, as well as exploring the dangers to Hollywood, and what can really go on in the shadows. I think it’s safe to say that this book will stick with you long after finishing it – or, at least, it did for me. It certainly made me think more about the industry and consider what could be happening behind the scenes.
I think the main thing which made this book stand out from other books I’ve read was definitely the journalism aspect. I don’t think I’ve read a story like this before, and it was so interesting and insightful in learning more about how the journalism industry worked. I thought it was a really nice inclusion of Garrett’s and a really unique setting for the book. Josie’s overwhelming drive and determination when writing the article was really inspirational, and it definitely added to her character.
Of course, all of the characters in this story were really strong, with a central focus on the females. The way they spoke out against the huge injustices they faced was so inspirational and just lovely to see. Their bravery and strength was something I really admired and I loved how they all supported each other. It was really empowering to see such a great focus on female power!
Obviously the reason why these females were all so strong and powerful was horrible, and they all had one thing in common – they were all sexually assaulted by a massive Hollywood director. Each of the women had such a horrifying and dark story to tell and, although Garrett didn’t go into graphic detail of what actually took place, it was clear how much of an impact this had left on them. Talking about things like sexual assault in the current age is so important because it’s still a really large and prominent issue in society today so I thought it was really great of Garrett to sensitively explore the topic.
Of course, that wasn’t the only big topic Garrett took on – there was lots of different representation throughout the book, which was lovely to see. Josie herself was black, bisexual, overweight and suffered from anxiety, and all of that made up such a crucial part of her identity. There were also multiple other characters who represented things like these, and it was great to see the diverse cast of the book as it’s so important that everyone can see a piece of themselves when reading.
The character development was also great. Admittedly, it mainly took place in the last fifty or so pages of the book, but it was still lovely to see the increase in Josie’s confidence and her learning to embrace herself and her body more. I loved seeing her gradual journey and acceptance of herself, and also watching her grow into her own as a journalist and writer.
However, that’s not to say that I loved absolutely everything about this book. I honestly feel like it tried to cover too much at once – the competition, sexual assault plotline, making friends, issues with body image, developing a romantic relationship, getting closer with her sister, battling anxiety, college etc – and I definitely think Garrett could’ve left out a couple of those things so that each plotline could’ve been more developed.
Leading on from that, I also had some issues with the romance. Despite Marius and Josie being cute enough together, I still wasn’t the biggest fan of their relationship, and I really think that it was just unnecessary. If anything the story could’ve worked better without it as there would’ve been more time for the sexual assault story, which felt a little rushed and didn’t really feature until the second half of the book.
Overall, I would recommend Off The Record for anyone interested in the journalism field, or writing in general, for that matter. I found reading about Josie’s interest in journalism fascinating, and it definitely made the book stand out! I would also recommend it to anyone searching for an empowering female book, as this has a clear focus on women taking back their power.
However, it must also be noted that sexual abuse/assault is a prominent theme in this book, so if that makes you uncomfortable, I would advise you not to read.
I hope you enjoyed this review!