Being yourself can be such a bad idea. For 16-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.
Lucy @ The Reading Date's review roused my affinity for stories about bullying and Iranian-Americans. Being a social studies teacher-reader, PERMANENT RECORDs mix of rich topics that could use an open dialogue and empathy led to my purchase of the book and then the audio.
It does not disappoint. PERMANENT RECORD has a similar feel of favorites, like Looking for Alaska, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and the The Silver Linings Playbook, but LESLIE gives a unique and authentic lens to experience all the frustrations of Badi's coming of age. Some of his struggles with friends, love, bullying and family are similar to any other teen, which makes him completely connectable to the reader. But he does have the additional issues of cultural expectations and nuances that make things harder for Badi.
You enter Badi's life in the wake of his attempted suicide. Though I agreed with Badi's anger about his parents changing his name to Bud Hess, I was hopeful for his new start at Magnificat's Academy. And in the beginning it was promising, he found friends that appreciated his wit and quirks. It doesn't take too long for things to seemingly spin out of control. Badi has found a home on the newspaper, but this emboldens him to speak his mind and not remain invisible. The problem is this coincides with the traditional chocolate bar sales that support only a portion of the student body, obviously not his particular slice of Magnificat. As Badi's refusal to participate in the fundraiser becomes known, someone decides to throw super octane fuel on the fire. A series of anonymous letters lambasting the Academy's treatment of lesser clubs has everyone pointing the finger at Badi.
NICK PODEHL captured Badi's experience. He took me there. I could see and feel Badi's frustration, outrage, angst and teenage indifference. NICK didn't lose sight of the lighter and hopeful moments either. But as things became more volatile, his pace and tension matched it. I wasn't going anywhere. He also beautifully portrayed Badi's family, their accents and their dynamic within their unit. NICK dialed in on the particular douchiness of Badi's terrorizers and concern of his friends. His females didn't lack either. I'll be looking for more of his narrations in the future.
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