For the Record is an intriguing blend of road trip story, rock star novel, and angsty YA tale that will ultimately leave you happy you hit the road with Charlotte Huang’s rockers.
Many rock star novels are about older artists who have already established themselves or at least come off as full-on adults. Charlotte Huang’s For the Record centers around an established band of college-aged boys, named Melbourne, who need a fresh young lead singer.
Enter Chelsea Ford. Chelsea is the lucky high school junior departing her Michigan hometown to tour the States as Melbourne’s new leading lady.
Unfortunately, things aren’t easy for Chelsea.
Life on the road has its ups and downs, and not everyone in the band is ready to welcome her with open arms. It’s going to take a miracle or a hell of a lot of hard work for Chelsea to prove to the established members of Melbourne that she deserves the chance she’s been given.
Along the way, we learn all about why Melbourne is in need of a new lead singer, we see Chelsea learn that a love life on camera isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and, in the end, we are reminded of why life’s experiences are meant to be treasured for all they give us.
‘For the Record’ book review
If you are looking for a glance into the wonderful world of life on the road, this book is most definitely for you. For the Record gets you into the head of a young girl that just wants to make music and live her life to its fullest. What girl her age wouldn’t want to spend the summer touring with a band she has always admired? Her relative inexperience lets the reader slip easily into Chelsea’s shoes and see how it would feel to suddenly find your dreams coming true.
The strongest part of For the Record is Chelsea Ford herself. While trying to please the members of Melbourne, Chelsea still does everything she can to stay true to who she is and the kind of artist she wants to be. Sure, she gets sidetracked here and there by sweet, attractive young heartthrobs who want to sweep her off her feet (and she may even take an ill-advised leap into the audience a time or two), but when it comes down to the show, Chelsea leaves her heart on the stage.
In addition to seeing the difficulties of living on a bus with three other guys (which was definitely no picnic), you get to see Chelsea grow as an artist. Throughout the story, Pem, the band’s bassist and resident music-purist, serves as Chelsea’s musical conscience. While Chelsea is doing everything she can to fit in with the band socially, Pem seems to never be happy with Chelsea’s choices. You can see her growing more and more frustrated throughout the story as she tries to win Pem’s good favor. Beckett, Melbourne’s guitarist, tries to help her by encouraging her to try her hand at songwriting, but it isn’t until the end of the story that Chelsea finally gets it. Pem’s dedication to his craft is the result of his years of performing with Melbourne, and it’s not something she could instantly learn.
Perhaps the most difficult part of enjoying For the Record is not seeing more of what will hopefully be many happy days for Beckett and Chelsea. Their bond grows steadily throughout the book, even as Chelsea is attempting to find happiness outside of the band. By the end of the book, you are ready to see how these two are going to support each other outside of Melbourne, and unfortunately, the story ends just shy of their actual reunion. We may not know Charlotte Huang’s plans for Chelsea, Beckett, and the boys of Melbourne after For the Record, but we will be anxiously awaiting news. Until then, we’ll just pretend it’s the good old days when Pem, Malcolm, Beckett, and Chelsea rocked out every night and left us clamoring for an encore.