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.
Off the Record is an important story that tackles a lot of real-world issues, and it has excellent representation. That being said, it suffered from trying to do too much: an unnecessary romance (which dominated the page time), biphobia, fatphobia, anxiety and panic attacks, and family issues all pulled focus from the main plotline of the #metoo movement in Hollywood. This plotline didn’t get started until halfway through the book, and was ultimately rushed in its resolution, significantly weakening its impact.
It also seemed to drag on as an audiobook. We spent so much time in Josie’s head that it made it feel like nothing was happening to progress the plot; there was a lot of telling, but not a lot of showing. I did love Josie’s voice, though: she has all of the anxieties and doubts and vulnerability of a teenager. I didn’t particularly enjoy the @JosieTheJournalist tweets that prefaced each chapter, as they only seemed to serve to show how Very Online Josie was — something we already knew from the countless mentions of her “mutuals” being her “real friends.”