Skip to main content

Permanent Record Review


Permanent Record by Mary HK Choi
Overview: Pablo's life is a mess. He works at a bodega or a "health food store" depending on who you ask, which is about the only thing he has going right at the moment. He dropped out of NYU, though that debt still follows him, along with the credit card bills from some ill advised buying sprees. He has a good group of friends that he lives with and a family that genuinely does love him, but he has no clue what he's doing. What's the end goal? Who knows... Overall: 5 

General Thoughts: This is not a normal part of my reviews, but I had some things I wanted to say that don't necessarily fit anywhere else. 1) I love this book, but I feel like it's for a very particular set of readers. You MUST be a lover of character driven stories because a lot of this book is exploring Pablo's mind. I love that. I honestly don't care about plot if I love your characters, but I know a lot of people aren't like that, so fair warning. 2) I would like Mary's ability to title books because Emergency Contact and Permanent Record are some of my favorite titles of all time. 3) This cover is just beyond gorgeous and the plastic dust jacket and what it does with the art is just remarkable. Anyway, on to the review.

Characters: 5 I was not expecting Pablo when I picked up this book, but I love him now. He's really the book. All of his anxieties, confusion with life, and passion for seemingly useless things fuel the book. While he has nothing figured out life wise, he's miles ahead of most in the emotional intelligence department. He's totally a 20 year old dude but he's so aware of his feelings and the world around him. I want to be friends with Pablo.
The other remarkable thing about this book is how well it balances a huge ensemble cast beautifully. This means I can't get into everyone here, but each character is so effortlessly developed from his million roommates to his whole family to his found family at the bodega. It adds to the feeling of being fully part of more than a story but a world. 
I will mention Leanne Smart briefly because she's named in the flap copy. Honestly, she's not as big of a part of the story as a lot of people. The book isn't about dating a famous girl like it might seem, but I'm happier for how it turned out. I also like the different and evolving looks at Lee we get through Pablo's eyes as time goes on.

Plot: 5 Like I said, a lot of the book is in Pablo's mind living in the anxiety, rehashing how he got to where he is. I love it. The book deals with things I feel like we need more of in YA but I've never seen before. It deals a lot with fear of failure and the meaning of success and talent. Reading about Pab's experience at NYU spoke to some of my deepest fears. I think Pab is all of us who are growing up in a world that expects you to describe, have a plan, and stick to a box for everything. What if you want to do everything? I also love all the family stuff in this book. It's so real! Also, all the stuff about debt is a huge realty today and a good warning for teens becoming an adult. There are so many things that no one ever tells you about adulting it seems.

Writing; 5 I loved Choi's writing before, but this was next level. Like I mentioned above on the feeling like you're part of a whole world, the language she uses to write this book feels so New York. Not in a cheesy stupid way but totally effortlessly. It feels authentic in voice, in the story. I can't wait to see where her writing goes next, and I love that she's paving the way for more 18-20 something stories in YA.

Books By This Author...
Emergency Contact: Review Here

Links of Interest:
She's The Worst: Review Here
The Sun Is Also A Star Movie Review: Here
Into YA with Sonia Hartl: Here
Have a Little Faith In Me: Review Here

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Dumplin'

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy (375 pages)
Overview: Willowdean "Dumplin'" is fat. It's something that she's come to accept about herself even after years of fad diets enforced by her mother and bullying at school. Aunt Lucy certainly helped with her self acceptance, and in cultivating her love of Dolly Parton, but Will is left rudderless after Lucy has a sudden heart attack. To reclaim a bit of confidence she'd lost, Will signs up for the Clover City Pageant. Though she's not the typical beauty queen, Will and her group of friends get to put their own stamp on her mother's beloved pageant. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 I like Willowdean. She lives in the place most of us do on the fine line between insecure and confident. Murphy does a great job building a crew of characters around Willowdean. It was fun to revisit the cast after I'd read Puddin', Murphy's forthcoming companion novel.

Plot: 4 While this book is mainly billed as being about a beaut…

Top Reads of 2018

This year's best of 2018 list has tons of new categories to fit all of the amazing books I read this year. I've had the chance to read so many advanced books and recent releases, so most of what I read were books that came out in 2018. I mostly choose contemporary, so I've started with my favorite debut as well as the best books in other genres I've ventured into. After that, I have smaller categories in the contemporary genre. I hope you find new books to love and give to your friends and family for the holidays. If you're interested in learning more about the books on the list, click their titles to go to my reviews. Let me know if these are some of your favorites in the comments, and tell me your favorite books!
Best In Genre Top Debut
Nothing Left To Burn by Heather Ezell Nothing Left To Burn gave me the craziest book hangover. I was so immersed in the story, and I couldn't stop reading to do anything that I actually needed to be doing. There is a toxic relat…

Have a Little Faith In Me Review

Have a Little Faith In Me by Sonia Hartl
Overview: CeCe and Paul have no reason being at Jesus camp. Paul gave up his faith years ago when his paster father abandoned his mother,  and CeCe never really believed to start with. They're not there to find their faith again, though. CeCe is on a secret mission to win back her born again boyfriend who dumped her after having sex. Whether it's love or just proving something to herself, CeCe is determined to get Ethan back, even if that means fake dating her best friend, Paul, and listening to hours of sermons. While CeCe shakes the camp up, she starts to shake up some ideas of her own about what happened with her and Ethan. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 I love CeCe. She's bold, unflinching, bright, and impulsive. Unafraid to be quiet about her own beliefs she challenges a lot of the misogynistic happenings at the camp and vocally questions why girls are left to shoulder the responsibility for "tempting" boys by not being modes…

Long Way Down

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (306 pages) Buy At Your Local Bookstore*
Overview: It's just one elevator ride. Just one elevator ride to the rest of Will's life. Eight floors takes so long when you're headed to kill someone. Even in revenge. Even for justice. Even when your brother was just murdered. It's even longer when every stop brings someone who's left your life back in. There's so much to learn before Will hits the lobby. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 Because of the atmosphere and the point of the story, we don't get super into the characters. They each represent a stop on a horrible cycle. It starts with Buck, Will's older brother, Shawn's, older brother figure. When Buck got killed, Shawn had to avenge his death, which got him killed. He also meets his Uncle Mark, an aspiring filmmaker who's death lead to Will's father's death because of the Rules. Each character doesn't exist to explore themselves or have their own motives- they…

What If It's Us

What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera (448 pages)
Overview: Ben and Arthur meet at the post office during a flashmob. Well, Arthur followed Ben into the post office because he thought he was and, and, just as they started talking, in true form with Arthur's New York fantasy, a flash mob erupted. When the boys and split up, Arthur loses his chance at connecting with Ben, but when he can't stop thinking about him, he explores ways to reconnect even in a city of a million empty faces like New York. Even if they can find each other, with Arthur going back to Georgia at the end of the summer, will it even be worth it? Overall: 4/5

Characters: 4.5 I'm not sure what to say about the characters. I liked them enough, but I didn't feel any real attachment to any of them. I liked the cast of friends, but they all lacked a certain weight that would give them a stronger sense of reality. My favorite relationship in the book was the friendship between Dylan and Ben.…

Starry Eyes

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett (417 pages)
Overview: Glamping should not include getting stranded in the middle of the woods with your ex-best friend. But life doesn't always go as it's supposed to. When Zorie agrees to go with her friend Regan and her crew on a summer camping trip, she doesn't know Lennon will be there, and she's certainly not expecting the group to abandon the two of them in the middle of the California wilderness, forced to complete a multi day track back to civilization. It turns out, though, that an adventure in the woods might be just what they need. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 I thought that all of the characters, including the adults, were given dimension. I loved the parental dynamic between Lennon and his moms as well as Zorie's relationship with her step mom who never considered Zorie less than her own daughter.
Lennon and Zorie are also awesome characters. Zorie has to battle her intense anxiety and relinquish control while she's stuck in…

Spin

Spin by Lamar Giles (387 pages)
Overview: Fuse and Kya have lost their best friend. #ParSecNation lost their leader, and the Dark Nation has decided to do something about it, even if it means terrorizing those who were closest of her. DJ Paris Secord, or ParSec was murdered at a warehouse she planned to throw a party in. Fuse and Kya found her when they'd come to make amends for different issues they'd rather the public, or the cops, not know about. But they both want to see Paris's killer caught, so they might have to overcome their differences and work together. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 Fuse, Paris, and Kya all get a turn to narrate the story which I enjoyed. They each have their own voices and personalities that really shine through and bring a different angle to the same storyline.
Fuse is rich. Her dad runs a successful marketing company, and she shifted what she learned from him to making Paris's music and brand famous. She helped Paris climb the ranks, but, at t…

Unpregnant Review

Unpregnant by Jenni Hendriks and Ted Caplan
Overview: Veronica is headed to Brown, she's valedictorian. High school is basically over for her, but the two lines on the pregnancy test ring a whole new kind of problem. As she makes the earth shattering discovery, her ex-best friend Bailey is in the bathroom too. When Veronica realizes that she'll have to travel thousands of miles to get an abortion, Bailey and Veronica embark on an epic road trip to safeguard Veronica's future. Overall: 3.5

Characters: 3.5 All the characters are nice enough, but they're not very developed or extended beyond their basic stereotypes. Veronica is the perfect Christian girl with a wonderful future ahead of her that winds up in a bad situation. Bailey is the dumped best friend who's "scary" and has tons of rumors swirling about her. Veronica comes to realize that keeping up appearances isn't everything and Bailey gets a friend (I guess?).
Then there's Kevin who apparently …

Goodbye, Perfect

Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard (January 29)
Overview: Eden has always been the irresponsible one with poor grades, a loud mouth, and a general air of irresponsibility, but it's her friend Bonnie that takes over the headlines of every major news station in the UK. Bonnie disappears with her ,music teacher and parent boyfriend, Jack Cohen, better known to everyone at Kett as Mr. Cohen. Eden can't believe that a friend would do this, but, suddenly, when she gets a WhatsApp message from Bonnie, she's clued in to their runaway mission. Pressured by her family, Bonnie's, and the cops, Eden refuses to tell them what they know because she made a promise to her best friend. Overall: 3.5 

Characters: 3 Okay, I guess I can see some of the thinking behind these characters, but it wasn't articulated very well. Eden refuses to tell on her friend even though she knows how wrong and serious the situation is. I can see making a promise and being hesitant, but I can't see a sixt…

Call It What You Want Review

Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer (June 25)
TW: suicide attempt discussed
Overview: Rob's father robbed the town. He lost everyone's money at his financial planning company. He took their money to make himself rich. Then he got caught and attempted suicide but survived in a somewhat vegetated state. Now Rob is a social pariah at school, and he has to take care of his dad who can't even acknowledge his presence. Maegan is still fighting the dirty looks from last year when her cheating got everyone's SAT scores cancelled, but, at least she still has her best friend and a sister. But then her sister comes home from college pregnant, and her house dissolves into a mess of anger and confusion. When a calculus project brings them together, they find that their complicated lives might not be something they have to face alone. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 I really enjoyed the characters. Rob is sweet, understanding, respectful, and confused. I loved reading about him, and esp…