I received this book for free from Publisher, Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Permanent Record Published by Simon and Schuster on September 3, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Diversity & Multicultural, Fiction, General, Love & Romance, Romance, Social Issues, Social Themes, United States, Young Adult, Young Adult Fiction
Source: Publisher, Simon and Schuster
Amazon // The Book Depository
From the New York Times bestselling author of Emergency Contact, which Rainbow Rowell called “smart and funny,” comes an unforgettable new romance about how social media influences relationships every day.
On paper, college dropout Pablo Rind doesn’t have a whole lot going for him. His graveyard shift at a twenty-four-hour deli in Brooklyn is a struggle. Plus, he’s up to his eyeballs in credit card debt. Never mind the state of his student loans.
Pop juggernaut Leanna Smart has enough social media followers to populate whole continents. The brand is unstoppable. She graduated from child stardom to become an international icon and her adult life is a queasy blur of private planes, step-and-repeats, aspirational hotel rooms, and strangers screaming for her just to notice them.
When Leanna and Pablo meet at 5:00 a.m. at the bodega in the dead of winter it’s absurd to think they’d be A Thing. But as they discover who they are, who they want to be, and how to defy the deafening expectations of everyone else, Lee and Pab turn to each other. Which, of course, is when things get properly complicated.
objectively, this book is closer to a 3.5 or 4/5 star BUT because i had such a wonderful reading experience and enjoyed it so so so much, i have no qualms for giving it a 5/5. Permanent Record is the first book i stayed up to read in a really long time; i can’t remember the last time it happened. i just– T—T
mary h.k. choi’s writing continues to blow me away. i’m obsessed and in love. it makes me want to write, or be a writer. i wish i were able to put my thoughts into words the way she does. this felt more like a collection of essays than a novel. it reminded me of durga chew-bose’s Too Much and Not the Mood (aka one of my all! time! favorites!) in the way it was unfiltered, casual (but not), and cultured.
No finite moment is responsible for my success. There wasn’t a fork in the road. Some monumental inflection point where my life changed. It was the accumulation of totally normal, regular-ass days where I worked hard, followed my better instincts, and did the right thing.
much of the story is set in new york/brooklyn and i really felt myself transported back to the dingy streets. i could almost feel the rumble of passing trains and cluster of people you know but don’t know. it was wonderfully cinematic. for a while, i was “over” being obsessed with new york and okay with not moving there. but after reading this?? it felt weirdly personal. i want to roll my eyes at the train delays; i want to go to the bodega and hunt for specific food items. this isn’t a loud NEW YORK book, but it really felt like one. also it made me hungry for snacks. fair warning.
a big thing i noticed was the pacing. it was a little
very scattered – jumping from chapters of a singular night to sentences summarizing weeks. at first i was kind of bothered and confused, but i came to see it as a metaphor for our main character, pab’s, well-being. (and i have a lot of Thoughts about him) throughout the novel, he’s unsure of what he wants and seems out of focus. (how does one make the main character, told in first-person pov, unfocused????? truly a skill. how?!!!) but when things feel Big for him, you can see it reflected in the writing, pacing, and everything. when things become clearer for him, he loses his haze.
Trying to get better at the thing you want to be the best at is humiliating.
these characters and relationships are messy and complicated. i kind of hated some of them. but by the end, i loved them all!! (shocker) they were so human. at times they were very frustrating, but it was annoying because it’s things i would do and hate myself for doing. these characters were very much their own, but i could also see hints of them in myself and my friends. when relationships were messy or tense, i could see it’s because people are in certain places at certain times. it made me reevaluate my relationships. and kinda feel existential. it’s great.
and lee. i really really liked her. i feel like i could do a big deep dive on her as a person, but it would make me just like pab or any of the smartees or dumbees. it’s like when i follow someone on instagram but don’t KNOW them. i read her words and see her as a person but i don’t KNOW her. but isn’t that the same for any human connection or relationship? is hers different just because she’s famous and part brand and not full person? or is it because it’s told in pab’s perspective? my thoughts on her continue to evolve and grow.
their relationship felt a little insta-lovey and weird, but i still loved them together? the ending reminded me SO MUCH of la la land and i loved it so much. when pab FINALLY chose himself over her, i felt like a proud mom. and even though they don’t end up together, there’s a chance they COULD at some point of the future. your love doesn’t have to be everlasting for it to matter. roman holiday-esque. it could never work out but it’s still a different sort of special.
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i also want to make some things clear: this is marketed as a YA book, but it didn’t really feel YA? the characters are ~20-22. college era and a little beyond. i guess you could say it’s NA, but it’s very not NA. it’s also marketed as a romance (see cover) and i don’t think the romance is the Big Thing. it is, but it isn’t. it’s a romance in the way la la land is a romance; it is, but it’s more about the characters themselves than the relationship they’re having and ~steamy romance~. which i like so much better.
… in art the purpose is the creation, not the result. Grow as you build. Autotelism. ‘Auto’ for self and ‘telos’ for goal. Find joy in the learning.
i could go on, but i think it’s very clear how much i enjoyed this book. reading it made me eight-years-old again when i would bring the book with my everywhere and constantly think about the story throughout the day. even though there were “problems” with it from a reviewer’s standpoint, i still love it. i know the pacing is weird; the plot is essentially non-existent and confused; the romance is kiiinda insta-lovey but not. who cares? it’s still great.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mary H.K. Choi is a writer for The New York Times, GQ, Wired, and The Atlantic. She has written comics for Marvel and DC, as well as a collection of essays called Oh, Never Mind. Her debut novel Emergency Contact was a New York Times bestseller. She is the host of Hey, Cool Job!, a podcast about jobs and Hey, Cool Life!, a podcast about mental health and creativity. Mary grew up in Hong Kong and Texas and now lives in New York. Follow her on Twitter @ChoitotheWorld.
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