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

I mean…phew. Lemme catch my breath for a second. This book…I mean this book! I have so many jumbled thoughts, I can’t. I’m gonna start my little rant now, so it’s not too late yet. You can still run…

Image result for permanent record book cover

Too late. You’re stuck now. So first of all, I’m gonna start with the cover. I mean, just look at this beauty. It’s too much for me to handle. It’s so appealing I could stare at it for hours. That’s exactly what I planned on doing, except I made the mistake of opening the book and began reading. And then there wasn’t exactly any turning back.

The first word that came to mind my while I read this book was this – REAL. I mean, with so many contemporary novels, the plot often seems to spiral out of control. In the sense that, things which perhaps can’t really happen in real life do happen and while reading about such occurrences may be nice, trying to imagine them isn’t exactly pleasant. I can’t put myself in the protagonists’ shoes and this just makes the entire novel a big no-no and no matter how good the language, I just don’t feel engaged enough! But this novel? I was there each and every step of the way. The problems were just so…REAL. As a high school student thinking about college myself, the real talk about daunting college bills, rent, and broken families is something that I relate to on a personal level. This aspect of life is something that YA contemporary authors often fail to touch or talk about and this is what made the plot and characters of this novel leap off the pages and straight into my now-mushy heart.

The relationship shared between Pablo and Lee is so bizarre that there’s a sense of normalcy to it (that made more sense in my head…I’m sure you think I’ve lost it. Sorry). Okay, lemme put it this way. In today’s world with all these different social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, almost everyone is famous. Bumping into famous people isn’t the same anymore – it’s quite ordinary I think. As a result, the relationship between these characters isn’t exactly unfathomable and we see how Pablo grows and finds his footing as a young adult in the world through this experience. Through this novel I even got a view of the kind of difficult life Lee led due to her popularity and my heart kinda felt for her. I would never want to find myself in that situation – with no freedom whatsoever – but I guess everything comes with a price and who am I to judge?

Pablo, as a character, was one that I feel all millennials relate with to some extent. Having mixed ethnicities is a feature many young individuals experience. Mary H.K. Choi beautifully represents this scenario through Pablo’s parents – His mom is from Korea while his dad is from Pakistan. Such different cultures blend beautifully and make Pablo the individual that he is. I think that as a reader, I saw this layer of his personality come through in bits and pieces throughout the novel. The way he took off his shoes before entering his mom’s house, the occasional usage of words like “goras”, and even when Pablo made dishes using “Parle G” biscuits (where my Indians at!?). These little aspects dropped here and there like crumbles for hungry readers like me to find made Pablo’s character an even more memorable and engaging one.

I appreciate the complex emotions that Choi’s characters bring to attention through her created characters. This novel actually made me sit back and think about my future and how so much depended on it. It was actually kinda scary, but oh well. All in all, this book reminded me how important human connection is and how grateful I should be for the relationships I share with my family and friends. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t shed a tear or two while reading this book…

If you’re reading this post right now and haven’t read Permanent Record yet, drop everything you’re doing and start reading it ASAP! According to me, it is a must read.



I give this book 4.5 stars out of 5…

And to wrap it up, here’s one of the many beautiful quotes of this novel:

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




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