Title // Permanent Record
Author // Mary H. K. Choi
Publisher // Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication Date // September 3rd, 2019
Synopsis // 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…
My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5)
Many thanks to the publisher, Simon & Schuster, and the author, Mary H. K. Choi, for giving me a free ARC at Yallwest!
Guys. Guys! When I got this book, I was basically jumping for joy! This book is so special to me because it’s my first ever signed book–signed and personalized by the author Mary H. K. Choi at Yallwest! And I have a matching pin to go with it that is just the absolute cutest! Gahhh I could gush about it forever! But I guess I should go on with the actual review though haha so maybe disregard this paragraph.
This book was about Pablo, a college dropout who Does Not Have His Life Together™. He’s months behind on paying rent, works the middle of the night shift at corner snack shop, is drowning in student debt, and probably can’t even get back into school if he wants to. He also seriously has no idea what he’s doing with his life and really doesn’t know what he wants to study or do or anything and man, I felt that.
I mean, fortunately my life is slightly more together than Pablo’s (or so I hope), but I’m starting college this year and I still have no idea what I want to study or do with my life and feel like I’m just bsing it all. I feel like I’ve read about so many YA characters who have their entire lives mapped out with a dream college to go to or whatever, and obviously in life all the adults somehow think I should have everything together and know exactly what I’m doing so this was so fresh and welcome and seriously relatable.
My thoughts on Pablo are kind of mixed. He’s definitely relatable, and pretty fun to read about. It was so obvious how much he cared for his family, despite often falling short of his mom’s expectations, and he was kind of snarky and sarcastic that was fun to read about. On the other hand, at times the way he treated people, especially his roommates, really made him feel like a jerk, and prevented me from really loving him and getting into his head. Also based off Emergency Contact I thought this book would be split POV between Leanna and Pablo, but it’s all Pablo which is kind of boo because I wanted to see her but oh well.
Leanna Smart is basically the opposite of Pablo–she has her life mapped out with her singing and acting and generally being famous, flying around the world in private jets and being mobbed by crowds of fans everywhere she goes. She and her storyline brought a bit of fun Hollywood life stuff to this book that I loved reading about because I’m lowkey a sucker for stories about famous people lmao.
The relationship between Leanna and Pablo was super cute, but it also felt really real, more so than most YA books I read. It was like, we really want to be with each other, but we have such different lives, and maybe we’re not in the best of places right now, so can we really work this out? I definitely enjoyed reading about it, and I found the ending really satisfying. But despite that there were some absolutely swoonworthy moments of course!
Beyond the romantic relationship, I enjoyed the other character relationships in this book. I loved seeing Pablo’s family, particularly the way he struggled to impress his Asian tiger mom who wasn’t even happy when he got into NYU, and the way he cared for his little brother as a sort of father figure when he was getting into all sorts of trouble. His group of roommates was also really fun to read about.
We need to talk about the representation though!! I had no idea that this book had biracial rep and it’s absolutely amazing! Pablo is half Korean and half Pakistani, and Leanna is part Mexican. There were some conversations about racism and racist stereotypes in media, and just everyday annoyances of people trying to guess but never figuring out exactly what you are.
**This part is a mild spoiler! There was also a great scene where Pablo visits Korea, expecting to feel some deep connection to it and the people there, but ends up feeling just as/even more out of place and alienated as he does in America, and oof, I felt that. Being half means never completely fitting in in either place. It honestly perfectly captured the way I felt when recently returning to Asian for the first time in a decade, where I knew it was part of my heritage and ethnicity, but I felt beyond out of place being unable to read signs and knowing I was being stared at. The biracial representation was definitely one of the major selling points of this book for me. End spoiler**
Overall, this book was really enjoyable and relatable. It’s definitely more New Adult that YA since both of the characters are in their twenties, and as someone who is just graduating high school and moving to that college stage of life, this is the perfect time to read it.