About the Book

Title: Permanent Record
Published: 2013
Swoonworthy Scale: 2

Cover Story: Two Truths and a Lie
BFF Charm: I’m a Little Torn
Talky Talk: Neurotically Beautiful
Bonus Factor: Diversity, School Newspaper
Relationship Status: Intense Crush That Got Friend-Zoned

Cover Story: Two Truths and a Lie

While this cover is still pretty obvi YA, at least it’s not embarrassingly so. I’d even deem it acceptable if I considered it out of context.

Anddddd here’s where I have issues with the cover. The crumpled newspaper in the shape of a bomb? DUBS TRUE! The graffiti-style title art? Um RECORD SCRATCH*. The protag is neither an aspiring Bansky nor too-cool-for-school, so it just feels out of place.

* That wasn’t even planned, but I’M PUNSTOPPABLE, Y’ALL. Actually, records do play a small role in the story. If it was up to me, I’d def. put a record on the cover and be all, “Get it? GET IT??”. Which is why no one would let me design book covers.

The Deal:

Badi Hessamizadeh is getting a fresh start. Not just at Magnificat Academy, but under an entirely different name: Bud Hess. You see, Badi had to leave his old school under less- than-ideal circumstances, and his parents want him to wipe the slate COMPLETELY clean: free of his past, free of negative associations with his ethnicity — just free of ‘complications’. But tensions escalate at school anyway and pressure mounts from his academic-oriented parents, pushing Badi to his breaking point.

BFF Charm: I’m A Little Torn

BFF charm with Natalie Imbruglia's face.

(I KNOW; my first book report and I’m already breaking the rules and paraphrasing the Imbruglia.)

I was ready to give Badi a BFF charm within the first page. He’s keenly aware of his neuroses and loser status, but isn’t exactly wallowing in self-pity. Factor in the rambling and the overanalyzing — TOTAL TWINSIES!

But Badi has prescription-level anxiety and he’s long suffered at the hands of asshole bullies, which brings out my protective instincts. Howevs, he already has plenty of family — and not the best relationship with most of them — so that’s not quite right either.

And then he ends up making some choices that… I do not agree with. Not in a Sassy Gay Friend way, but more like a hand-wringing Eeyore/Jiminy Cricket worrywart. So I guess I’d be Badi’s anthropomorphic Disney sidekick.

Swoonworthy Scale: 2

Badi is instantly smitten with the cartoon-drawing, outcast-befriending Nikki, who reminds me of a better adjusted Alaska Young, but he’s definitely a Duckie. There’s not a lot of swoonage, but Leslie Stella nails the total agony of being in “love”.

Talky Talk: Neurotically Beautiful

Leslie Stella does such a great job of conveying what I’d imagine having anxiety would be like. She also gives Badi a vivid and honest voice that seamlessly finds insight, even in mundane office supplies.

I pocket some peppermint candies. Stamps, a small Maglite flashlight, a ministapler — I always wanted one of those.

[…]

I open and close the ministapler a bunch of times. It chatters like teeth. When you have stuff taken from you routinely — your name, your physical safety, your last scrap of self-esteem — even the smallest things feel like restitution. For a while anyway.

Bonus Factor: Diversity

Faces of all different races, ethnicities and genders.

So I’ve kind of buried the lede with this one, ’cause being Iranian isn’t really a big deal in Badi’s day-to-day (other than during meals, which weren’t prominently featured but still put my ereader at risk of water damage on account of ALL THE SALIVATING).

ANYWAY. It’s not a big deal until the d-bags of the world decide that it’s a big deal. And Stella’s depictions of racism towards Badi are double heartbreaking, since probably a lot worst has been (and is being) said and done to upstanding, law-abiding people of Middle Eastern descent.

Bonus Factor: School Newspaper

Girl reading a newpaper on steps with backpack and laptop

My high school paper was pretty forgettable*, just like the Vox Populi under the tutelage of Ms. Viola. But then Badi joins the paper, upsetting the status quo with his opinion pieces. Unfortunately, Badi’s arrival coincides with a series of like-minded anonymous open letters, making him the target of everyone’s suspicion.

*Save for this ode-to-women poem. Nice idea in theory, but in execution called ladyparts INCUBATORS OF LIFE.

Relationship Status: Intense Crush That Got Friend-Zoned

Book, when I first met you, I crushed on you HARD. I’m talking elaborate daydreams and doodling your name in my notebook. But the more I got to know you, the more I realized that we’re not really meant to be. I’ll always think fondly of a book as upfront and honest as you are, but we’re better off as friends (that you invite to your mom’s for dinner? PLEASE?!).

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Leslie Stella. I received neither money nor froyo for this review (dammit!). Permanent Record is available now.

Mandy (she/her) lives in Edmonton, AB. When she’s not raiding the library for YA books, she enjoys eating ice cream (esp. in cold weather), learning fancy pole dance tricks, and stanning BTS. Mandy has been writing for FYA since 2012, and she’s been overseeing all things FYA Book Club since 2013.