Book Review: Permanent Record

Mary H. K. Choi

Rating: 2 out of 5.

published: 7th November 2019
spoilers? none


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.

I care about everything equally until I care about so many things I get overwhelmed and care about nothing at all.

Galley provided by publisher

I’m about to open this review up with that dreaded phrase. It’s not you, it’s me. Because this book exemplifies the phrase. Pretty much everything I disliked about this book can be put down to me. So, feel free to just ignore my review and go read it anyway. I won’t be offended.

Permanent Record tells the story of Pablo and Leanna, who meet in a bodega at 5 in the morning. Pablo is a college dropout, struggling with credit card debt and student loans (and won’t answer his goddamn phone to talk to the debt collectors), while Leanna is a famous popstar. What follows isn’t a romance as such in the conventional sense. The focus is more on Pablo than Pablo-and-Leanna.

I’ll start with what I did like about this book. That is, Pablo. He was easily my favourite character of the whole thing, even if he was a dickhead at times and even if he stressed me out by not actually getting in touch with the people he owed money to. C’mon Pablo, just call them back. But anyway. I loved him, and I loved the way his relationship with his family developed (especially at the end when he actually talked to them).

However, Pablo was about the sum of the things I liked. And, yeah, you’d think liking the main character would be enough for me to like the book too, but not this time. Because, ultimately, I was bored by this book. I don’t know why – possibly I was just in the wrong mood – but I found myself skimming the book very early on. Okay so Pablo and Leanna’s first meeting was great, and I (initially at least) loved their dynamic, but instead of coming to like their relationship more and more as the book went on, I started disliking it. And I’m not sure I was supposed to. I think I might have been meant to feel sad about their relationship going the way it did, but I didn’t. I just started disliking both characters. And all that on top of feeling bored by the book.

It’s not a bad book, don’t get me wrong. It’s just not a me book, for whatever reason that may be.

So, if you want a character driven, not exactly romance-centric new adult (ish) novel, then this one is for you.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Permanent Record

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