Review: Permanent Record by Leslie Stella

Permanent Record takes on bullying, mental health, and teenage struggles in a real, and entertaining way. Rating: 4/5

*This is book #4/75 for my 2013 book challenge. It also counts as book #2 for my “New Authors” group-challenge. You can take a look at my different reading challenges here.

Please Note: I received a free e-galley of this book courtesy of Net Galley and Amazon Children’s Publishing. The following review is entirely my own view, and receiving this e-galley has not changed my opinion in any way.

Being yourself can be such a bad idea.

For sixteen-year-old Badi Hessamizadeh, life is a series of humiliations. After withdrawing from public school under mysterious circumstances, Badi enters Magnificat Academy. To make things “easier,” his dad has even given him a new name: Bud Hess. Grappling with his Iranian-American identity, clinical depression, bullying, and a barely bottled rage, Bud is an outcast who copes by resorting to small revenges and covert acts of defiance, but the pressures of his home life, plummeting grades, and the unrequited affection of his new friend, Nikki, prime him for a more dangerous revolution. Strange letters to the editor begin to appear in Magnificat’s newspaper, hinting that some tragedy will befall the school. Suspicion falls on Bud, and he and Nikki struggle to uncover the real culprit and clear Bud’s name.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s rare enough to find a main character that is male in YA, let alone one that is Iranian. That alone makes this book fresh and interesting. Badi’s story is one that a lot of people can at least recognize, if not relate personally. These are characters that you see at every high school across America. While you’re reading, you can’t help but feel like you are Badi. Each action by each supporting character made me just as upset as he felt. I would get so angry at his classmates and his family for treating him that way, but that was part of what made this so good. They all acted just the way they should. No one was perfect, not even the “manic pixie dream girl”.

There are two things that could have been a bit better. There was almost a lopsided love triangle here. Badi likes Nikki, who seems uninterested in him in that way. Mila likes Badi, who seems like he could possibly like her in that way but can’t because he likes Nikki. I think it was distracting to the story, and would have been better if only one of those situations were happening, since nothing really came to fruition from either. With the mysterious letters showing up in the newspaper, Nikki, Badi, and Reggie started to come up with a plan at finding out who was behind it. It was set up as if they were going to go all detective or something, but they didn’t. There were a few mentions of them attempting to figure it out, and a few times where I thought I had it all figured out (but was wrong). However, for the most part, they kind of dropped the ball. All of a sudden Nikki knew who placed the notes in lockers, and then all of a sudden Badi knew who wrote the anonymous letters. I would have enjoyed it better if there had been a bit more build up regarding these revelations.

I must say, as someone who suffers through bouts of anxiety and panic attacks, this story was beautiful. The way that Leslie described Badi’s panic attack was so wonderful that I wrote it down, highlighted it, and sent it to my friends. I’ve never been able to explain the suffocating feeling before, and for that I’m thankful. There were so many things I highlighted in this book. “Assholes are people too” and “I care so much I should probably remain 200 yards from this story at all times” are some of my favorites. I am sure that readers will fall in love with Badi’s story as quickly as I did.

Rating: 4 book review

If you’re interested in reading my GoodReads updates from this book you can do so here. I must say, they’re quite entertaining. It will tell you exactly what I was thinking on certain pages.

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