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

Title: Permanent Record (review copy)

Author: Mary H.K. Choi

Genre/Themes: Young Adult, Contemporary, Anxiety, Depression, Self Doubt, Further Education/University, Financial Struggles

Blurb 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…

My Review

You know when you just put a book down after you’ve finished it. And you just sit there. But somehow you find tears welling up in your eyes. So you try to wipe them away…

Yet you can’t. The tears just have to be shed. The emotions demand to be felt.

That’s exactly how I was after finishing Permanent Record.

This book took a number of days for me to read because I just felt it all so keenly. I couldn’t read at my normal place. This book demanded more of me. And not for a second do I regret giving it my heart.

If you’ve ever been lost or lonely or confused in life then you will know exactly the feelings that Pablo goes through in this book. His life may be different to yours…

I mean hands up who among us has had a deeply affecting love affair with a celebrity…

*cue deafening silence*

…so yes. His life is different. This definitely has aspects of the purely fictional…

But yet Pablo grounds this.

Pablo is you.

He is me.

Pablo is all of us.

He’s every fear you’ve ever had, every doubt; every feeling of loss, of not fitting in…

Sometimes books are more than their plots. Because the characters in them truly touch us. Pablo’s story moved me so deeply. The journey his character took, his dealings with his family, his friends, his heartbreak, his crippling anxiety and depression… I felt what he felt. My heart ached for him and it also ached for me. That is truly gifted writing. My world weary heart identified with his and I feel like I learned as much about myself from this reading experience as Pablo did from his journey.

This is such a deceptive book. On the surface it’s pegged as a love story between a pop starlet and a uni dropout…

But the blurb barely scratches the surface at what this book truly is about. It’s about finding ourselves. Finding acceptance. And knowing that it’s okay to not always have the answers.

The characters here don’t try to be likeable. Pablo makes frustrating choices for sure. And we only see Leanna through his eyes so never really understand her and her motivations…

But this worked for me. I like that this book took a narrow PoV because isn’t that how we each experience life anyway? It’s all through our individual interpretation. So I loved the narrative choices that Choi made.

I know as I read an advanced review copy I’m not supposed to quote the book unless I can check it against the final published piece but I simply have to share this quote. Because it struck a chord deep within me…

“Life isn’t a destination. It’s the continual practice of things that make you wiser and happier.”

Keep practicing my friends. And when our life’s stories have concluded hopefully we can look back and know that wherever we ended up it didn’t matter, because we were happy. And isn’t that what we all want. Our own happy ever after.

Brilliant. A must read.

An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher, Atom/Little, Brown Book Group UK, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Other Works by Mary H.K. Choi I’ve Reviewed

My Socials

31 thoughts on “Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi – Book Review

  1. OH MY GOD THIS REVIEWWWW HAS LEFT ME A SOBBING MESSS!! 😭😭😭😭 SOO SOOO BEAUTIFUL, hon! SOOO VERYYYY BEAUTIFUL! I had read reviews of Permanent Record before too. It it’s yours that has ACTUALLY made me wanna pick this one up! 😍😍😍❤️❤️❤️ LOVED IT SOO MUCH!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rain this book made me a sobbing mess!!!!! Writing the review made me sob too!!!! I JUST LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH. I HOPE YOU LOVE IT AS MUCH AS I DO <333333333 I can't even begin to explain how much of an impact this book has left on my soul. MY SOUL HURTS BUT IN A GOOD WAY!!! This book was a catharsis. I just love it so much ASDFGHJKL!!!!!!! :)))))))))) <333333

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I felt so similarly about this book! I had to read it slowly because it just kept throwing punches, and I found myself wanting to cry on and off because I related to Pablo’s struggles so much. It really was masterfully written!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This was a beautiful review, Emer ❤️ It sounds like this book really caught you by surprise and touched you. I love how you mentioned that you took the time to read it more keenly. I love stories that are so good that we need to read them slower to stay with the characters longer, especially when those characters embody so many things close to our heart. I’ve heard such good things about this book, but this is probably the best review I’ve read for it. Definitely reading this book soon 😊.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment Belle and yes!! Absolutely!!! I was certainly not expecting anything like the deep emotional reaction I had to this book. I had seen a few other reviews and they said the book was somewhat average so for me to find myself so engaged with the storyline and so taken in by the feeling of this book was such a surprise. I love it so much and highly recommend it to you :)))) <33333

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Joanna!!! I am still reeling from this book. I never expected it to affect me quite like it did. It was supposed to be a fairly light romance in my eyes…but what it was was so much more. I can’t believe how much it resonated with my soul. Definitely a book I highly recommend :)))

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m glad that my library had this in! I will hopefully get to it this week or next week because your words just make me want to dive in now!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I was waiting waiting WAITING for this review and the wait was definitely worth it. I need to read this book asap. your review was lovely and definitely made me tear up. it sounds so heartfelt and wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Amanda. But this book though… OH THIS BOOK!!!! I was not expecting to feel what I felt. But it shook me to my core. It put a mirror up to my soul and I saw its words carved there, staring back at me. I just loved it so much Amanda!!!


  5. I loved this book too Emer and felt how lost Pablo was because I’ve been there! I could feel his anxiety. 😞 As a mom of two kids, I could feel Pablo’s mom’s frustration and fear about not having enough money for college too. A wonderful review for an awesome book.


    1. Thanks so much Yolanda!!!! There’s just so much good stuff in this book isn’t there. Like you can relate to it on so many levels because the story is authentic… which is an amazing feat considering the celebrity aspect!!! Glad you loved it too <33333333

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Emer, I think your review honestly made me cry. Wow. I didn’t think this book was going to have that much depth to it as far as what you mentioned. Now at least I know what to expect with this one and I know to take my time and appreciate it more than just rushing through it. This was such a great and emotional review, Emer ❤ ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Leelynn this book floored me. I was not expecting this reaction either. I just fell so in love with this story and identified so deeply with the feelings of loss and worthlessness… I am shook by this book. And I know a lot of other reviews are giving it around a 3 star average but for some reason it got me right in the feels and I just loved it. Love love loved it. Thank you so much my darling friend. You are the best <33333


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s