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.
A SLICE OF LIFE CONTEMPORARY
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.
GREAT MAIN CHARACTERS AND REALISTIC RELATIONSHIPS
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!