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…
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