cover image Permanent Record

Permanent Record

Mary H.K. Choi. Simon & Schuster, $18.99 (432p) ISBN 978-1-5344-4597-0

New Yorker Pablo, 19, is down and out of luck. He’s dropped out of NYU, works the graveyard shift at a Brooklyn bodega/health-food store, and is over his head in debt. But on the night that charismatic pop star Leanna Smart walks into his shop, wearing a “Morticia-Adams-type dress” with white boots, he forgets his worries. The two are deeply attracted to one another, and he’s soon involved in an intense, secret romance that has him jet-setting around the globe and putting his responsibilities, as well as his relationship with friends and family, on hold. Although the outcome of the whirlwind love affair is fairly predictable, Choi (Emergency Contact) provides a lively cast of characters, especially the members of Pablo’s eclectic family: his highly driven Korean-American mother; his less-directed Pakistani-American father, whose latest endeavor is to become a playwright; and his scheming, enterprising middle schooler brother. If the conclusion of the novel seems rushed, the rising action—filled with conflict, captivating events, and authentic-sounding, often humorous dialogue—will win readers, and teens like Pablo, who are unsure who they want to be, will relate to his dilemmas. Ages 14–up. Agent: Edward Orloff, McCormick Literary. [em](Sept.) [/em]