Monday, February 8, 2016

For the Record - Charlotte Huang

That's right, another book with music at the forefront. I just can't help it! I could probably review at least a book a week with music involved now that I think about it. In this case, I requested this book when the synopsis mentioned Almost Famous, which is a great coming of age movie if you haven't seen it before. Married to a music agent, Charlotte Huang knows music and she knows tour life and that shows in the pages of For the Record. If you're looking for a novel that delves into the world of music fame, but still reads like a YA novel, look no further.

Rating: 4 Stars
Published: November 2015
Many thanks to Netgalley and Delacorte Books for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Amazon Goodreads
Chelsea has the chance of a lifetime, not only does she get to meet one of her favorite bands, she gets to be their new lead singer. Melbourne is an up and coming rock group with a female front, with a full length tour ahead of them Chelsea is the final part of their puzzle. With newly found fame though comes publicity, other famous stars, and emotions that Chelsea doesn't know what to do with. As a social outcast at her old high school, fame is something entirely new to Chelsea and when it comes down to the schedule, the guys, and even her best friend she doesn't know if she can make it through the year to hold onto her new position as lead singer.

 Chelsea is a fun character, she's not "perfect" looking, she has a whole lot of spunk, and she's never quite figured out the whole friendship and relationship thing. She's also got a set of pipes on her that lands her not only one a pop music competition, but now as the lead singer of one of her favorite bands. Tell me that's not a dream come true? Except, that's what it is, to good to be true. If you've ever seen a band go through a public breakup, you have to know the behind the scenes isn't as easy as it looks. Chelsea has to go through some crappy situations, major emotions, and a lot of publicity as she tries to figure out her role in Melbourne. We see the rock star life through Chelsea's eyes, we also see her growing up from teenager to young adult, and all the mistakes she makes along the way. I really liked Chelsea because of those mistakes though, because honestly no one knows how we'd act when thrust into fame. Would I say no to the hot actor I've always wanted to kiss me? Probably not. Then there's her friends, her family, and her band mates. The secondary characters in this book are a lot stronger than I expected them to be, they have unique voices, their interactions separate them out as individuals, and they were distinctly different in how they acted and how they treated Chelsea. I genuinely enjoy a book that makes me feel like I've met everyone and actually know them, rather just pass them by. Charlotte Huang does a great job of giving the characters pasts and showing how history shaped the band into who it was at the time of Chelsea's joining.

 Chelsea's life lacks true parental involvement and friendship, something I struggled with a lot at first. High school doesn't seem that long ago, but I never saw anyone become a true social outcast. Chelsea was like a pariah to her entire school and that was hard to connect with. Then she has family who want her to succeed, but seem to be disconnected from her rise in fame. At times they seem proud of her to their friends, but they lacked real parental guidance and emotions. While I can see how this is reality for some people, I couldn't connect with Chelsea on those two things because it seems crazy to me that you'd be this newly famous person, yet you have no friends and your parents are more interested in impressing their friends. There's a lot of betrayal in this book and at times I really didn't like some of the characters, Chelsea included, but all the character's personalities and actions totally make sense by the end and I was genuinely pleased with how this book finished off.

 This should come as no surprise to my readers, or just anyone who knows me at all, but I loved this book. I knew I had to read this when I saw the mention of Almost Famous. My readers know I gravitate to music books and if you've ever visited my blog before you know I once wanted to work in music, I even interned with a music PR company during the summer once, so books like this just speak to me. Plus, once you start reading this book you find yourself hooked, because Charlotte Huang knows how to write and it's easy to visualize the entire novel like a movie. The best part though, is how realistic everything in this book is. From the backstage antics to the tour bus visitors, as well as the band mate drama and exhaustion from traveling, everything is pretty darn accurate. There's even a sneaky little tour booklet in the back that I will admit I read in great detail, what band fan girl hasn't done this? This is definitely a book I recommend, both to my YA and NA readers, and all my music lovers.

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