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Permanent Record [Kindle Edition]

Leslie Stella
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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. Permanent Record explodes with dark humor, emotional depth, and a powerful look at the ways the bullied fight back.

Editorial Reviews Review

Q&A with Leslie Stella

How did you get inside the mind of a teenage boy?

Badi grew into a fully realized human being with each draft of the novel. I confess I never thought, “How do I get into the mind of a boy?” as much as I thought, “Who is this particular person?” The boys in my books are not typical pop-culture renditions of boys; neither are the girls. Badi is a little bit of the teenager I was and a lot of the person I wish I had been.

Is it difficult balancing the humor in the story with the more serious subject matter?

Sometimes, yes. I used to have a horror of inserting a message in my novels: “All right, boys and girls, get ready for the lesson!” Chalk it up to a certain immaturity on my part—this fear I had of being serious, perhaps of being taken seriously—because I don’t take myself seriously at all. But I learned that there’s a difference between taking yourself seriously and taking your work seriously. I find that now I do want to say something with my writing, and when you have complicated subjects such as the ones explored in Permanent Record, or a complicated main character, there is going to be a strange balance of humor and drama. Which is just like real life, you know? There is humor in pathos. There is comedy in sorrow. Badi’s simultaneous good humor and crippling depression mirrors our messy lives.

What was the biggest challenge for you in writing this story?

The biggest challenge was reining in Badi when he became angry. Part of me wanted to let him inflict damage. But I realized that was my own problem, not his, that I struggled with disproportionate rage and elaborate revenge fantasies. He wouldn’t pull pranks on people for no reason. He would not be cruel. So in a sense I had to rein myself in, too. I don’t go in for the cheap thrills.

Did you let go of these characters or do you find yourself continuing their stories in your head?

I did let go of these characters. Maybe it’s because I felt I told their entire stories, explored their arcs from beginning to end. For a book that can be at times a difficult read, it ends with renewed hope and strength for each character. I feel confident that they would go on to greater things, whole and positive lives, despite life’s thorny twists.

Do world events such as the recent Boston bombings make you think any differently about your characters and what happened in this story?

I don’t feel differently about my characters, but perhaps I feel differently about the world. Is Badi really so special and unusual with his complex views of good and evil, his ability to sort out his humanity—and others’ humanity—from the baser human instincts? Maybe. It’s depressing, actually, to realize how often we fail to measure up to these fictional characters who are supposed to reflect us. But then again, maybe there is a Badi out there, a quiet, unassuming, put-upon boy, who, despite all the disadvantages that the world throws at him, decides not to inflict damage on the rest of us. He changes his mind and goes on about his life, and none of us know how close we came to destruction. I have to believe he is out there.

From Publishers Weekly

***Starred Review***

Adult fiction writer Stella's first YA novel smartly tackles ethnic and social prejudice while introducing a remarkably strong underdog: 16-year-old Iranian-American Badi Hessamizadeh. Following Badi's destructive behavior at a public school (a result of being targeted by bullies post-9/11), Badi's father transfers him to Magnificat Academy and changes his name to Bud Hess, in hopes that he will clean up his act. Badi's depression, anxiety, anger, and compulsions make fitting in a challenge, though he does befriend two fellow outsiders, Nikki and Reggie. When Badi refuses to participate in the school's chocolate bar sale (he sees it as "forced labor"), and anonymous, antagonistic letters start appearing in the student newspaper, he is assumed to be the culprit and again becomes the victim of bullying. Readers will be absorbed by the mystery of the letter writer, as well as the tension surrounding acts of sabotage leading up to homecoming, but it's Badi's sardonic narrative that makes the novel crackle. Behind his nervous distrust of the world is a burgeoning resilience, depth of character, and commitment to battling injustice. Publishers Weekly March 2013 Starred Review

Product Details

  • File Size: 2805 KB
  • Print Length: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Skyscape (March 5, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00AOBGZ86
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #529,489 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars so many emotions packed into this YA book April 10, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I finished Permanent Record last night, closed my Kindle, and needed time to think about Bud, the main character, and his many struggles. I teach in a middle school and know that so many kids must deal with bullying, prejudice, and loneliness. As a teacher, I try to keep an eye out for these kids; remember to use their names when I say hello, show interest in their lives, and pump them up when they're feeling low. Therefore, I was intrigued by the relationship between Bud and his Modern Lit teacher, and surprised at the compelling storyline that involves both characters. There are so many levels in this book. Not only did I find the characters to be memorable and satisfying (loved Nikki), but enjoyed reading about real life issues like the importance of money-making sports in high schools and the problems of Iranian-American families in post 9/11 America. I recommend you read this book for the depth of the characters, the compelling storyline, the bits of humor, the mystery that begs to be solved, and the compassion you will experience as you remember your own high school days.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking intelligent read March 27, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Amazon Publishing is to be commended for not just writing your run-of-the-mill vampire love story in the teenage category. The books I have read from them have all felt like they would withstand the test of time. I believe they'll also help teens working on overcoming similar issues.

"Permanent Record Card" is about bullying. Specifically, the post-9/11 hatred of anyone who looks Arabic, but it addresses the kind of daily hazing that high school kids have to face as well.

It's a hard read, but I think it would benefit both students and their parents alike. High School is not what we grew up in. It feels like the violence is up a notch particularly since it's possible to make someone's life hell 24/7 now with Internet.

Strongly recommended read.

Rebecca Kyle, March 2013
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mystery and so much more March 24, 2013
By dwade
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I love stumbling upon "Young Adult" works that offer so much more than the category implies. Leslie Stella tackles the timely, universal topics of bullying, acceptance and self-discovery in a touching and bittersweet way. While Bud's journey in "Permanent Record" is certainly something that a high schooler can relate to, it's something that an adult can likely appreciate in a deeper way, because of the passing of time. As I started to care for and understand the characters, a "whodunit" developed and it had me staying up late to uncover the mystery. What a great book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing! March 28, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Wow, what a great novel. And do not think it's just for teens. This book will affect adults as well. I enjoyed the fact that the author did not gloss over tough situations. I work in a high school situation and have seen bullying first hand, as just about everyone who has ever attended high school has. This novel takes on the after effects of bullying. The main character is an Iranian American high school student who was a victim of bullying after the 9/11 attacks. He's become an angry teen who lashes out and struggles with depression and anxiety. His parents send him to a private school in hopes of shaping him up, but he manages to just make more trouble for himself. Badi, or Bud as he's renamed is hard to like at firsy, but he grew on me as I read his struggles. This is a great read. I can't recommend it enough for teens or adults.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling, relatable story March 27, 2013
For anyone who's ever been bullied, felt like an outcast or just not "normal," Leslie Stella's latest is for you.

All of the realities of the high school experience are told convincingly through the voice of a troubled Iranian-American student struggling for acceptance - by his classmates, his teachers and his family - while battling his own demons and the lies that follow him through the halls.

While the premise sounds heavy (and it is), Ms. Stella still manages to inject a sharp wit into the narrative that had me laughing out loud, even while feeling the anger and frustration of her antihero. The storyline will keep you guessing, and the clever writing and realism of events will keep you rooting for the underdog.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, Poignantly Written Work March 6, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This was such a unique novel for me, in so many ways.

First of all, Stella's choice to use an Iranian/American protagonist was such a refreshing change of pace in a world of YA fiction where I find that, overwhelmingly, the landscape tends to favor main characters of a more uniform persuasion.

The fact that Badi/Bud suffers from debilitating clinical depression and an anxiety disorder further exacerbated by a lifetime of bullying from his classmates and the subsequent lack of understanding by his own family members definitely tore at my heartstrings on numerous occasions. When Stella poignantly described a face of abject misery staring back in the mirror and then proceeded to boil down the essence of Bud's compulsions down to a mole on his cheek that he obsessively scratched to the point of bleeding, I felt my own hand raise to my skin to brush away an itch I did not feel but only sensed in the blackest recesses of my soul for this lost young boy.

You'd think from of all of this that Permanent Record was a very sad, difficult book to read.

On the contrary, it was anything but -- this is a book that leaves you laughing, crying, and smiling to yourself at the resilience of spirit that lies dormant in even the most broken of us all.

Bud as a narrator is smart, at times a bit morose, but absolutely funny, and his observations of the world around him are keen and on point. He can break your heart and have you in stitches all in the same breath. He goes past the term "adorkable" and into a territory all his own.

Stella deftly weaves the Iranian culture into her work, and anyone coming from an immigrant background or raised in a first-generation family will be able to empathize with the dynamic that she portrays.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars This was a fantastic book about how bud has to face some of ...
I am an 8th grader at a public middle school and some of things i can relate to. This was a fantastic book about how bud has to face some of the worse struggles in schooling. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Gforce
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
This was a well written,thoughtful book. Everyone should read it.
Published 5 months ago by Brad Lovett Cohen
5.0 out of 5 stars So glad I heard about this book and then followed through and read it!
Great read!! I'm so glad I ordered it. Would recommend.
Published 5 months ago by adrienne meyer
3.0 out of 5 stars Coming to terms with who you really are
This was one of the books I picked up on a whim, the cover got me, I admit it. Sixteen-year old Badi withdrew from his old high school with lots of issues that he hopes to leave... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Live Outside
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good read- highly recommend it.
This is a very well written unexpected gem. Great characters, palpable angst, drama, suspense. Great insight by the author into the world of the characters that were developed. Read more
Published 6 months ago by jim
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Interesting to get the view of Badi. Very insightful.
Published 6 months ago by lakota
5.0 out of 5 stars A book about hard emotions by an adult that doesn't trivialize them.
I recently read Permanent Record and the pop thriller Divergent, and I gotta say, what a difference. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Dave
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable narrator
Bud's story of being bullied and having to start over again at a new school is not only very moving, it's also written with Leslie Stella's trademark humor and wry insight. Read more
Published 15 months ago by EB
5.0 out of 5 stars Realistic, current, poignant and funny
Permanent Record was an enjoyment to read. I've read other books by Leslie Stella and she is certainly growing as a writer. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Kultimate
5.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable read
This book was a great read. The story flowed well and it me wondering what would happen next. Good read for teens and adults.
Published 18 months ago by keyana
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More About the Author

Leslie Stella is the author of four novels: Unimaginable Zero Summer (Crown, 2005), The Easy Hour (Crown, 2003), Fat Bald Jeff (Grove/Atlantic, 2001), and Permanent Record (Skyscape, 2013). She was a founding editor of the Chicago-based politics and satire magazine Lumpen, and her work has been published in The Mississippi Review, The Adirondack Review, Bust, Easy Listener, and anthologized in The Book of Zines: Readings from the Fringe (Henry Holt, 1997; compiled by Playboy editor Chip Rowe), a collection of essays and articles from the obsessive, frequently bizarre world of zines. Leslie was nominated for a 2004 Pushcart Prize in short fiction, and Permanent Record is her first novel for young adults. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, she lives in Illinois with her husband and children.

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