Whenever I think of celebrities, I automatically think of the glitz and glam. A card with an endless credit limit, not having to worry about bills and just doing whatever the hell you please. You never think of the negative because money solves all the issues, and it does if you’re rich (I’m sure you can agree, just look at the Kardashians).
Pablo Neruda Rind encounters a brush with someone famous and thus we have our plot for “Permanent Record” (by Mary H.K. Choi). Pablo, our main character, is a college dropout who works at a 24 hour bodega and one night he meets teen idol, Leanna Smart, and his life changes forever.
As a college dropout he is drowning in student loan debt (dropped out of NYU, super yikes) and is also in credit card debt. He believes that he is doomed to work this job for the rest of his life. Pablo is also afraid to face his troubles, so he constantly shoves his worries to the back of his mind until it snowballs, it gets worse from there, but more on that later.
Pablo hates his job and wants to change, but he doesn’t know what he wants to do. Enter Leanna Smart (real name Carolina Suarez), as previously said, she is a teen idol and she also recognizes Pablo due to his earlier brush with fame being “Youtube famous.” They briefly hit it off as he recommends items to purchase and they hit it off. He catches a glimpse of her life with the fancy credit cards (one can dream) and that’s kinda it. Life resumes, he lives with roommates that tolerate him. Pablo is always complaining about his living situation, always making himself out to be the victim.
Pablo is an asshole.
Leanna Smart comes back and Pablo’s life changes afterward. At the last second, he puts his life on hold to go on an adventure with Leanna (which you can’t put your life on hold and think you’re coming back to normal). Although it was nice for him, of course it backfires. The rest of the book has Pablo ghosting everyone from his friends, job, counselors and family all for a celebrity that made him sign numerous NDAs and left him In South Korea to take a work trip to China.
Of course Leanna is a victim of fame as well. She has to look a certain way, she’s constantly busy and can’t really enjoy life. Their whole relationship is just odd throughout the book.
Pablo just distances himself from his friends. He’s always negative, never gives praise to people. I honestly stopped caring about Pablo when one of his roommates got an acting gig on a TV show. Rather than congratulating, he criticizes the TV show for the slightly racist character the roommate was playing.
The only times Pablo is happy is when he’s talking to Lee (Leanna) and even then he gets a little stalker creepy to the point where I cringed at some points. Of course their relationship cannot be normal. His friends do eventually meet Lee but his family never does. The book never touches on the implications on the NDA, other than it exists.
Pablo eventually faces the trouble after hitting rock bottom and becomes a likeable character when there were 50 pages left in the book, which for me was too little too late. Pablo is such a selfish character. His Dad was a favorite of mine, wanting to be a playwright, with Pablo being an asshole to him. And his Dad makes a great play too.
Anyway, I enjoyed the book at times when it involved people yelling at Pablo and whenever it dealt with Lee and her crazy celebrity life. Choi did a great job at creating unlikeable lead characters. It was a quick read but the rest is a hard pass. Read at your own risk.
Thanks for reading!