Off the Record by Camryn Garrett
Penguin Random House / Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 18, 2021
Josie Wright is seventeen years old, Black, fat, a future Spelman College legacy student (fingers crossed), and a brilliant writer already getting some exposure. When she wins the chance to write a feature article for an important magazine on a young up-and-coming actor, Marius Canet, Josie is determined to make the most of her time on his film’s cross-country press tour, even if it means ignoring her growing feelings for Marius. Just when Josie thinks she’s got her work/life balance under control, a young actress on the tour discloses the horrible truth about a powerful director and asks Josie to break the story of his on-set abuse.
Garrett skilfully balances the many themes and plot threads in Off the Record – discussions about race, gender, body image, sexuality, sexual harassment and assault, justice for survivors, and family relationships are woven organically into the book as Josie processes them herself, and in a nuanced way that avoids sounding preachy or forced. In Josie’s narration, the prose is fast-paced, witty, and infused with a tender vulnerability that mirrors Josie’s insecurity about her right to the spotlight she has earned.
Give Off the Record to teens who gravitate toward realistic contemporary romances that still tackle difficult topics, like Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith and Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender. Tiffany D. Jackson’s Grown has a much darker tone, but both books explore the impact of powerful men in the entertainment industry who abuse their positions.
Other Nominated Titles
- Mazie by Melanie Crowder (February 23, 2021)
- One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston (June 1, 2021)
The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.
Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten. The previous years’ lists are available on The Hub.