Book Review: Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi

Book Review: Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi

Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi is an original story about a pop star and a college dropout that is surprisingly meaningful. I enjoyed the premise as well as the blend of entertainment and serious moments, however the main character’s actions really stressed me out. I had high hopes for this book since I enjoyed Emergency Contact, but this one fell a bit flat for me.

Book Review: Permanent Record by Mary H.K. ChoiTitle: Permanent Record
Author: Mary H.K. Choi
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 3, 2019

three-half-stars
Summary (from Goodreads):

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…

Amazon “Book

❃ I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. ❃

Book Review: Permanent Record

This book follows Pablo, an NYU dropout working at a deli, when he meets pop star Leanne Smart. Pablo pushes the issues in his personal life aside and tags along on spontaneous international adventures. While this may be a book about a celebrity and a normal person, it is surprisingly not cringey. Leanne and Pablo have many meaningful discussions, and the themes found within the book are surprisingly significant. I also enjoyed the balance of seriousness and fun. Pablo’s experimental snacks in particular made me smile. As well, it is worth mentioning that the ending of the book is pretty unconventional for a contemporary, and while I didn’t care for it, I appreciate the innovation.

❀ Balance of Seriousness and Fun

One of the main reasons why I didn’t love this book is because of Pablo. Personally, I didn’t agree with a lot of his decisions. He isn’t concerned enough about things like his financial state, but instead he takes off in a private jet with a pop star for the fun of it. Just reading about his debt and how much worse his situation becomes stressed me out, and I just couldn’t handle him taking off instead of dealing with his (incredibly serious) problems. He essentially needs his job to afford to live let alone save for school, and I couldn’t believe how he gives it all up in a second for a chance at love. I understand that it is realistic to have a character who is struggling with finance and identity, and Pablo does have his moments, but his actions are just absurd.

❀ Significant and Entertaining

Permanent Record is a book that is both significant and entertaining as it follows a pop star and a boy who is struggling to get his life together. I found the premise and many elements of the story engaging, however I found that the main character’s attitude and actions really ruined the story. Perhaps others will feel differently, but a main character really makes or breaks a book for me.

About Mary H.K. Choi

Image of Mary H.K. Choi

Mary H.K. Choi is a Korean-American author, editor, television and print journalist. She is the author of young adult novel Emergency Contact (2018). She is the culture correspondent on Vice News Tonight on HBO and was previously a columnist at Wired and Allure magazines as well as a freelance writer. She attended a large public high school in a suburb of San Antonio, then college at the University of Texas at Austin, where she majored in Textile and Apparel.

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