Pop juggernaut Leanna Smart has enough social media followers to populate whole continents. The brand is unstoppable. She graduated from child stardom to become an international icon and her adult life is a queasy blur of private planes, step-and-repeats, aspirational hotel rooms, and strangers screaming for her just to notice them.
When Leanna and Pablo meet at 5:00 a.m. at the bodega in the dead of winter it’s absurd to think they’d be A Thing. But as they discover who they are, who they want to be, and how to defy the deafening expectations of everyone else, Lee and Pab turn to each other. Which, of course, is when things get properly complicated.
I was all set to give this book a middle of the road, C-minus kind of review because it just wasn’t what I wanted. It was an okay read. I went into Pablo and Leanna’s story with high expectations of a pop star meets normal guy whirlwind romance with an ultimate, against all the odds HEA in the end … and (spoiler alert!) it just wasn’t. Even after the most adorable meet-cute ever and the intensity of Pab and Lee’s chemistry, something was still lacking. And I was super bummed about that all throughout the second half of the book.
(It's possible the blurb isn't doing its job to prepare readers for the story they're actually getting)
It wasn’t until I finished the book that I had a light bulb moment and realized, it was never supposed to be about the romance at all. And that’s when I really got it. Shame on me for putting my expectations ahead of the author’s intent and letting it distract me from Pablo’s real story of self-discovery.
Pablo’s voice was the thing that kept me reading when I wasn’t vibing with the story. The author really brought this character to life and made him unique, funny and so very flawed. I loved him. His is a classic “failure to launch” kind of story. He’s only twenty but he’s managed to spectacularly fail at life in almost every possible way and he just doesn’t know how to dig his way out of the hole he’s made for himself.
Pab’s story is a familiar one, yet not one you often see in YA. He doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up. He doesn’t know who he is. He doesn’t know anything. But somewhere along the way, he starts to figure it out and that’s where his story really wowed me in the end. His (adorable) romance with Lee shakes up his world, it changed him. It ultimately gave him the tools he needed to grow as a character and learn the oh so important lesson of how to grow up when you can’t quite see the path into adulthood as clearly as those around you do. And that was the story I missed because I was so focused on rooting for Pab and Lee to make it.
If you’re looking for a cutsie pop star romance with an HEA, Permanent Record isn’t it. It is so much more.