Review: Permanent Record, Mary H. K. Choi

There are no spoilers in this review.

Emergency Contact is one of my favorite books of all times and automatically made me add everything Mary H. K. Choi would write at the very top of my to read list. Permanent Record, her sophomore novel, was one book I was so, so eagerly anticipating and, when I got the chance to read an early copy of it…. I screamed.

Obviously, when it comes to expectations, you’re almost always bound to be disappointed. Here, if I felt like Permanent Record missed a teensy tiny thing to make it to my ultimate favorites’ shelves… it’s not far from it, either, at all.



Permanent Record is one of these slice of lives kind of contemporary. It doesn’t feel like an action-packed kind of book, where everything is packed and happening all at once. Character-focused, it’s more about the main character, Pablo, a college drop-out, as he tries to figure out his own life and has a strange meet-cute with a famous singer that turns his entire life around, too. More than a romance, this story is about Pablo and him trying to find his way through life, his place in the world and most of it all, what he is supposed to do with his life when everyone else seems to have figured it all out.

All of these themes deeply echoed with me and are, if you ask me, everything we need more and more in books destined to some of the young adult readers, the ones heading off to college and a little lost about the process of it all, too. Despite having left university for a while now, I could find myself in a lot of Pablo’s confused thoughts and even now, about which path to take next and where you’re supposed to be. Permanent Record is this delicious book that doesn’t shy away from the confusion and messiness of life around that time and for that, I loved it all the more.



Told from Pablo’s point of view, Permanent Record was, at first, a little strange to get into. Pablo has a particular voice through the story, yet it was one I got used to and one I could empathize with early on, as well. I grew fond of him and, most of it all, wanted him to be okay. The growth he went through, as the story went on, was incredible and before anything else, realistic. There is no straight path to happiness and there are no certainties. Pablo, his path as he tries to figure it all our, are, really, the heart of the book and I loved that.

Permanent Record has, yes, a strange meet-cute and a romance at its heart, complicated yet compelling. I adored the relationship between Pablo and Leanna, from the moment they met to their endearing conversations, seeing their feelings grow through time and the complications as their relationship went on.
The story also gives a great place to the family, with Pablo’s complicated relationship with his mother, father and little brother. I loved their interactions, I loved the fact that they didn’t agree, they messed up and none of them were perfect, but in the end it all was so realistic, I loved it so much.



Permanent Record is not perfect and I never asked for it to be, either. It’s messy and complicated and it perfectly reflects life as a whole when you’ve dropped out of college and are at a loss for what’s happening next. With a side-romance that made me happy, Permanent Record offers an incredible slice-of-life, character-focused story that I feel like would be perfection for these looking for these new adult books we all have been needing more in the market. Mary H. K. Choi: I’m a big, big fan.

Final rating: 4,5 drops!

A million thanks to Simon & Schuster & NetGalley for sending me a digital ARC of this book. This did not, in any way, influence my thoughts and rating.

Trigger warnings: anxiety.
Diversity: biracial main characters, Pablo is half-Korean, half-Pakistani, Leane is half-Mexican. Diverse side characters: Miggs is Puerto Rican & Dominican, Dara is Jewish & Sicilian.

Mary H. K. Choi, Permanent Record, Published by Simon & Schuster’s Books For Young Readers, September 3rd, 2019.


After a year of college, Pablo is working at his local twenty-four-hour deli, selling overpriced snacks to brownstone yuppies. He’s dodging calls from the student loan office and he has no idea what his next move is.

Leanna Smart’s life so far has been nothing but success. Age eight: Disney Mouseketeer; Age fifteen: first #1 single on the US pop chart; Age seventeen, *tenth* #1 single; and now, at Age nineteen…life is a queasy blur of private planes, weird hotel rooms, and strangers asking for selfies on the street.

When Leanna and Pab randomly meet at 4:00 a.m. in the middle of a snowstorm in Brooklyn, they both know they can’t be together forever. So, they keep things on the down-low and off Instagram for as long as they can. But it takes about three seconds before the world finds out…

Did you read Permanent Record? Do you want to?

Are you a fan of Mary H. K Choi’s books? (If not, you should try them out!!). What are your favorite books with college-aged main characters? I’d love to hear from you in comments!





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Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. 📚 |🌍 | 💞 Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

49 thoughts on “Review: Permanent Record, Mary H. K. Choi

  1. Ooh great review! Emergency contact is still on my TBR-list, and I feel like this would be an amazing read too. Character-focused books are so good, and most of the times more realistic too. Definitely adding this and can’t wait to read it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely review, Marie 🙂 I can’t believe I haven’t read Emergency Contact yet though you have mentioned it so many times. And now I can’t wait to read Emergency Contact either. I love books which have romance as a side plot giving other themes the importance they need. And seems like this book has done a good job at it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had actually set this one aside. Though I found Pablo’s narratives amusing, there was something rubbing me the wrong way. I think I will need to pick it back up, when I am in a different frame of mind, because this is a rather glowing review.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I feel like you’re not alone feeling this way, this book has some mixed reviews and I feel like it was a little hard to get to it at first. I hope you’ll give it another go and will love it 🙂
      Thank you so much! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ahhh I’m SO GLAD you liked this because Emergency Contact meant everything to me so I preordered this and I have high hopes 😍 I’m glad you loved it, and I really love messy characters just trying to find their way. 💛

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I haven’t read this one or Emergency Contact yet, but your review made me want to move them up in my TBR! I’m so glad you loved it so much, and it sounds like a wonderful book! I haven’t read many college-aged books, but as I am in college myself, I should probably read them more often! Amazing review, Marie! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel like Emergency Contact and Permanent Record are both hits or misses, I personally connected a lot to the first one and this one, too. I hope you’ll have more luck with this one 😀 happy reading ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Lovely review, Marie! I had a bit of mixed feelings about Emergency Contact, but I still enjoyed it a lot! I’ve been a tad skeptical of Permanent Record, but from the reviews I’ve seen, I think it might be a hit for me! I love how it’s a slice of life kind of contemporary and that the story is more realistic. It isn’t picture perfect, but rather depicts a messy and complicated bit of life that can be relatable! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, love! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh, I’m so glad you loved this! Emergency Contact was one of my favorite reads last year, so I can’t wait to get my hands on this one. I personally really like quiet contemporaries. I love reading about characters, so some good dialogue and an A+ character arc are all I really need in a book lol. Like just give me a teenager learning about life and themselves in the process and I’m alll there. Great review, Marie!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What is with Mary H. K. Choi and having such gorgeous covers for her books?? I got a copy of the ARC, but I was in the bookstore the other day and oh my goodness the hardcover version is even prettier!!

    I did enjoy this book overall, and I really liked the main characters! I just had some issues I think with Pablo and Leanna’s relationship. I feel like at some points he was more in love with the *idea* of her, rather than her as an actual person. I know this was sort of addressed, and I did love how the book tied up their relationship. I was also so stressed throughout the book for Pablo with all his debts and responsibilities 😂 I swear the whole time I was screaming in my head, ASK PEOPLE FOR HELP!!

    Great review Marie!! 💕💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know right?? She has the BEST book covers ever, I’m so in love with them all. I can’t wait to be able to buy a physical copy, it’s absolutely stunning ❤
      Ahh I'm happy you liked the book as well, it was such a great read…. and it made me feel anxious and stressed out for Pablo, too haha 🙂
      Thank you!! ❤


  9. I absolutely loved reading your review for this as I have recently read Emergency Contact and enjoyed it. I liked finding out more about the plot as I didn’t know too much and I love that the main character dropped out of college and is trying to figure out his path as I think that would be very relatable and full of confused feelings to unravel.
    I like that the books are messy as it feels more realistic as things are never clear cut and it is all complicated. I can’t wait to read this book one day and I’m so happy you enjoyed it.
    Lovely review, Marie!! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thank you so much, Sophie! ❤ I can't wait for you to read this book, I feel like it's so necessary to have these kind of reads, character-focused and all about the confusion of college and life in your early twenties. ❤ I hope you will love it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I really loved Emergency Contact as well Marie! It’s good to know you loved her sophmore efforts almost as much. I love how biracial all the characters were. I also really love college stories! I agree we need more books like this and focused on making decisions and finding your way when you’re lost. I also find it really intriguing it was the male POV. Great review ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I really enjoyed Emergency Contact!!! And this is definitely one of my most anticipated reads of the year. It sounds really great and I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Something about Mary H.K. Choi’s writing is so easy to slip into and just feel something. You know what I mean? There was just *something* to Emergency Contact that was like an embrace and I really, really am excited to see how Permanent Record feels. Can’t wait for more from Choi!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AH YES I’m so happy you loved Emergency Contact! I really can’t wait for you to read this one, I hope you’ll adore it. I get what you mean so much, the author’s writing just always hits me and makes me feel it all and I love it. ❤
      Thank you so much for your comment, Jessica 😀


  12. So this is the first time I am hearing about this book but it does sound like the kind of one I like. I like when the relationships and development are messy – because that is just how real life is like. And as a character driven reader, a slice of life kind of story only attracts me to it more. Will go and check it out further on Goodreads!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Fantastic review as always, I’m glad you enjoyed the book so much. I still need to read both of the authors books but they do sound interesting. I also like that the characters sound realistic and deal with real life issues too.

    Liked by 1 person

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