PERMANENT RECORD BY MARY H.K. CHOI - BOOK REVIEW

After devouring Choi's debut novel, I knew I NEEDED to get my hands on her latest - and let me tell you, it so did not disappoint!

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi. Thanks so much to Simon and Schuster and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC for an honest review, as always, all opinions are my own!


This story follows Pablo, a twenty-year-old who doesn't really know what he wants to do with his life. He got into NYU but with credit card debt piling up, he dropped out and is working at a twenty-four-hour bodega. It's not that he doesn't want to do something with his life, he just hasn't figured it out yet. One night, while working the graveyard shift, he finds himself flirting with a girl buying snacks - a girl who turns out to be Leanna Smart, former Disney star and currently topping the charts with her #1 single. While they spend more time together, it becomes clear that even though they are trying to keep things under wraps, Lee's star-studded lifestyle is a bit much for Pablo to handle. With his future uncertain, bill collectors looming and parents who are constantly freaking out, Pablo's not sure how to proceed.

This - along with Choi's other book - is one of those perfect in-between books. It's not quite Young Adult because the characters aren't in high school, but it's also not full of the usual steamy-romance stuff that most New Adult is filled with. As a college-aged person myself, I really appreciate it when authors carve out this small space to represent a demographic that is often forgotten about! Plus, I know the struggles that Pablo goes through are almost universal for anyone in that age range - and I would have given a lot to read a book where those anxieties and emotions were addressed so openly when I was finishing high school and looking into the abyss of the future.

As with Choi's other books, this one was quite racially diverse - not only were the main characters both mixed-race (Pablo is half Korean and half Pakistani and Leanna is half Mexican) and discussed a lot about what it is like to grow up mixed race, but most, if not all of the side characters are also racially diverse. While I can't personally comment on the 'authenticity' (which, I know is a charged statement in and of itself) of these discussions, they were really eye-opening and discussed feelings of being mixed race and of feeling more one race than the other - Pablo explicitly says something along these lines and when Lee is talking about herself describes herself as, at first, half Mexican, but then corrects herself by saying she's trying to not describe half of herself, she is Mexican.

Aside from the basics of this book, it was a really amazing contemporary. Choi has such a great ability to write and her dialogue and inner monologues are whip-smart. While things happened with Pablo and Lee pretty quickly, I never doubted their chemistry because of the dynamic they had. I will say that despite being under the impression that this book was a romance, there was definitely more emphasis on Pablo's journey in life than on the romance. I won't spoil anything things get a little heart-breaky for a bit there and I wasn't sure what was supposed to be happening. Things work out the way they should in the end but I was kinda taken aback.

Overall, this was a brilliantly done contemporary and I will be recommending it to everyone for quite some time to come!