January 18, 2016

Review: For the Record

For the Record By Charlotte Huang
Available now from Delacorte  (Penguin Random House)
Review copy

Chelsea has been shunned at her high school ever since her first relationship went horribly awry.  Not even going on a musical talent reality show helped, even though she placed high.  But she's just become the new lead singer of hit rock band Melbourne, and she's going on tour with them this summer.

I loved all the details of the tour, from the rules of the tour bus to the hassle of last minute guest requests.  It hangs together without breaking the point of view, since Chelsea is just learning the ropes too.  In the back of FOR THE RECORD, debut author Charlotte Huang thanks her music agent husband and various bands she was able to talk to for helping her get the details right.  It really does add to atmosphere of the first summer of the best years of Chelsea's life.

In addition to learning the ropes, Chelsea is trying to convince the band members that she's in this for the long haul.  The shadow of their previous singer hangs long over their relationships, particularly with the standoffish Pem.  Beckett is the nicest one to her, but Chelsea struggles with her attraction to him versus the rule of no relationships within the band and crew.  It's much easier to date Lucas Rivers, the teen heartthrob movie star who is into her.

I thought Chelsea's struggles with her self-esteem where realistic.  She knows she's a great singer, and she's comfortable with her body (even if it isn't Hollywood skinny).  Chelsea's fine with herself.  What she isn't fine with is with making new relationships.  She still has trouble with romance and trusting friends due to those high school scars.  Her one friend, Mandy, is along for the ride as a merch girl, and Chelsea worries about the guys clueing in that Mandy really is her only friend.  I thought Huang imbued her heroine with a believable and readable balance of confidence and insecurity.

FOR THE RECORD is one of those books that sucked me in once I started reading it.  I had to see Chelsea succeed.  And, okay, I did wonder if she would end up with any of the guys.  I still appreciated that Chelsea put her career first.  This is one fabulous summer read.

(Why do they tour Texas Houston - Dallas - Austin instead of Austin in the middle?  I don't know.)

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