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All booksYoung adultPermanent Record
Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi
Young adult

Permanent Record

by Mary H.K. Choi

Quick take

From the author of Emergency Contact, a coming-of-age read that gets what aimlessly navigating your 20s feels like.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Romance


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FastRead

    Fast read

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Snarky


Why I love it

Karah Preiss and Ebony LaDelle
"Why Not YA?"

What we love most about recommending books for “Why Not YA?” is the reaction we get from readers when they dive into a YA novel they didn’t know they needed to read. And that’s exactly how we feel about Mary H.K. Choi’s Permanent Record.

In Permanent Record we meet Pablo, a recent NYU dropout who works at a bodega, just trying to figure out his life. One night while he’s working the graveyard shift, in walks Leanna Smart—a child star with a rabid fan base (think Ariana Grande or Selena Gomez)—and soon, a romance forms. What follows is a story written with so much honesty. We cringed as we watched Pablo make countless financial mistakes—but we also silently felt what that meant for his future, because haven’t we all done that at some point? We also deeply related to Pablo’s conflicted feelings on intimacy in the age of social media; on the one hand, we’re all connected, but on the other, there’s this element of isolation.

This book was easily a favorite to read, and the conversation we struck up with Mary just sealed the deal. A pop culture writer herself, Mary drew on her own experiences (I mean come on, she was one of only 140 journalists who got to jet-set with RiRi), and you can absolutely sense that in this story. At first you might be annoyed with Leanna, the pop culture icon—but as you get to know her, you’ll start to feel for her, and inevitably, you’ll be rooting for a relationship with so many odds stacked against it. Permanent Record is a roller coaster in the best possible way. It’s your juicy, funny, adorable, and utterly ridiculous rom-com that you must read now.

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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…

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Check out a preview of Permanent Record.

Member thoughts

All (406)
All (406)
Love (118)
Like (211)
Dislike (77)
427 ratings
  • 28% Love
  • 49% Like
  • 18% Dislike
  • The Dalles, OR

    Mary H. K. Choi has done it again! I didn’t think she’d be able to come close to the magic that is Emergency Contact but Pablo and Lena’s story is a sweet one. And one that I’d read again and again

  • Peachtree Corners, GA

    This book snuck up on me and slowly revealed the main character’s true situation being more dire than just average 20 year old malaise and confusion. I didn’t go how I expected and I’m glad for it!

  • Berkeley, CA

    very sweet and romantic, loved the diversity and how social media played a part in the story, because it is a huge part of everyone's life, and it doesn't show up in literature as often as it should.

  • Santa Paula, CA

    Yes, a typical love story where two unlikely strangers fall in love in a hopeless place. But also about self-love and self-discovery. The writing is frank and refreshing as a millenial. Love M. Choi!

  • Brooklyn, NY

    Fast read - loved the imperfect ending - a story of how people come into your life and though you want more of your time with them, they exist there sole to help you overcome hour deepest struggles.

  • Acworth, GA

    Mary H.K. Choi did it again. Emergency Contact, her debut, was excellent, and her second does not disappoint. Genuine-feeling characters and relateable situations make this book a must-read!

  • Houston, TX

    First of all - COVER ART. This was a great one-shot contemporary; the characters were charming and fleshed-out, and the writing was illustrative and modern. Great palate-cleanser read.

  • Warsaw, IN

    I love books by Mary H.K. Choi so I am not surprised I liked this one. I like these type of books because although its YA the characters are a little older and more relatable.

  • Omaha, NE

    Spot on voice, swoony love story, and a critical message on mental health. This book addicting and contemporary and overall a relevant read for teens and young adults today

  • Independence, MO

    I didn’t really like the way it ended, these two characters were perfect together!! Please make this a series, I was so upset with the ending, but it was a great book!

  • Lithia Springs, GA

    This book was very laugh-out-loud funny at times, but also could be sad in a very real way. I loved how the feeling of hopelessness associated with college was portrayed.

  • Saratoga Springs, UT

    This thought provoking book took 2 broken people and put them in proximity with each other. What happens is magic! The ending is very Roman Holiday feeling.

  • walbridge, OH

    Another young adult book I normally might not have read, but ended up loving. Mary Choi knows how to write! I also enjoyed her previous book.

  • New Philadelphia, OH

    Mary Choi always delivers with her lovable characters with relatable and interesting flaws. Plus the snacks in this book were drool worthy.

  • Miami , FL

    I really enjoyed this book, i love the characters, it felt very close to home and i love that the charscter were 20+

  • Richmond , VA

    I finished this book within an 8 hour shift at work. I loved every part of this story, from beginning to end!

  • Las Vegas, NV

    With an unlikely to happen in real life plot, this was an believable book that was a very enjoyable read.

  • Groves, TX

    This is the romcom I’ve been craving all summer. Absolutely perfect!

  • Suffern, NY

    Mary H.K. Choi can do no wrong and I want to read her words forever.

  • Cincinnati, OH

    Amazing, stunning, adorable, kind of disappointing in the end.

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