Permanent Record

( 3 )


Being yourself can be such a bad idea sometimes. For sixteen-year-old Badi Hessamizadeh, life is a series of public humiliations. After withdrawing from public school under mysterious circumstances, Badi enters Magnificat Academy as a junior. 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 ...
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Being yourself can be such a bad idea sometimes. For sixteen-year-old Badi Hessamizadeh, life is a series of public humiliations. After withdrawing from public school under mysterious circumstances, Badi enters Magnificat Academy as a junior. 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 unique, powerful look at modern teen life.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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. Ages 14–up. Agent: Lucy Child, Aaron M. Priest Literary Agency. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Kim Harris Thacker
Sixteen-year-old Badi Hessamizadeh is coping with a lot: clinical depression, being bullied, changing schools, falling in love, trouble at home, the prejudice that too often comes with being an Iranian-American in a big city, and the fact that his name has just been legally changed by his father to Bud Hess. Add a school-related mystery to Badi's already complex life, and the result is a page-turning coming-of-age novel. Readers may be dealing with issues that are similar to Badi's, but if not, they will still connect with him. He is a lovable, delightful protagonist—sharp-witted and in possession of a depth and range of emotion that makes him seem real. His voice is raw, but never sordid, and vulnerable, but never cliche. He is sympathetic to the plights of those around him with little cause to be so, and he earns the reader's sympathy in turn, though his choices are often objectionable. This novel, which marks the author's debut in young adult fiction, takes a realistic look at clinical depression and asks important questions about responsibility and whether or not it is right for the bullied to seek revenge. It has an enticing plot, but the characters are what make it truly remarkable. Reviewer: Kim Harris Thacker
Kirkus Reviews
"I'm just Bud Hess, transfer student, underachiever, nobody." Badi Hessamizadeh is clinically depressed, on the rebound from a suicide attempt and subject both to crippling panic attacks and fits of rage after years of ethnic bullying. Now, he's trying for a fresh start with a new name (arbitrarily changed by his well-intentioned but overbearing father) and a new high school, Magnificat Academy. It's not to be, as (in overt homage to a certain YA classic) he refuses to sell chocolate bars and so not only earns a restroom beating, but becomes a target of widespread suspicion when, coupled with rumors of his past, anonymous threatening letters begin to appear in the school paper. Playing out her crossover as a dark comedy, adult author Stella (Unimaginable Zero Summer, 2005) further stacks the deck by giving her Iranian-American protagonist a penchant for making lists of enemies, constructing small explosive devices and other provocative acts. She also outfits him with new friends who stubbornly like him despite both his issues and a preference for pranks that annoy the cast's largely clueless adults but put only him at risk. Despite characters exaggerated to the point of caricature, an edgy, discomfiting attack on post-9/11 nerves and prejudices. (Fiction. 14-18)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781477816394
  • Publisher: Amazon Childrens Publishing
  • Publication date: 3/5/2013
  • Pages: 282
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Leslie Stella is the author of three previous novels of contemporary adult fiction, Unimaginable Zero Summer, The Easy Hour, and Fat Bald Jeff. 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 (edited by Playboy’s 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. Permanent Record is her first novel for young adults. She lives in Illinois with her husband and their children.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 14, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    This was one of the books I picked up on a whim, the cover got m

    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 behind. An outcast, he’s angry with life, often bullied by others and he uses revenge upon his tormentors. With medical issues, Badi sees a medical professional who he says all the right words to so it doesn’t raise any red flags. His father changes their last name before the school year but with Badi, he got a whole new alias, he is now Bud Hess. It is as if, leaving his Iranian name behind would make his life any easier but it is only a name, a part of the person that Badi had now become and his troubles are not far behind. With such a wonderful start to the book, I was expecting the tempo to continue throughout the book but I found things starting to drift off. Bud tries at school but with his anxiety and his past creeping into his head, he struggles to stay positive and focused at succeeding at school. His history just won’t let go and it put him in disarray. Joining the newspaper, he hopes to find a niche, a place where he can belong. I enjoyed the authors writing style and language, it was the tempo and the adventures of the book that I wanted more of. The novel has some great points and with such a small book, it is a quick read. Tackling issues about school injustice, bullying, and inequality, I believe she was effective.

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  • Posted March 23, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    An Amazing MUST Read!

    Have you ever been an outcast who doesn’t fit? Were you picked on, bullied, emotionally and possibly physically assaulted for being different? Worse, were you ever one of the bullies? Leslie Stella has told the nightmarish story of a young Iranian-American boy who was the constant object of ridicule and scorn because he was different. Suffering from debilitating clinical depression and an anxiety disorder , Badi/Ben not only suffers at school as an outcast, but receives little to no support from his family at home. It seems everyone has turned their backs on him, teachers, school officials, everyone. In a fit of rage, Badi strikes back, causing him to be placed in another school. Emotionally crippled, his father’s only solution? Change the family name to something more American sounding and once again, admonish ‘Ben’ to stay out of trouble. Of course, Ben is still different; he doesn’t even like the same things other kids do, so once again, he does NOT fit in. Fortunately, he has finally found true friends in two other outcasts.
    What Ben has to endure, from false accusations, to brutal beatings for a stand he bravely took is unconscionable. That his classmates were so insecure as to need to bully someone who was not a cookie-cutter version of themselves, is a frightening testament to society’s lack of acceptance of the individual who dares to utilize the concepts of our constitution. In his mind, Ben was trying so hard to be moral, to do the right things no matter what, but his own mental health issues often got in his way. He fashions a way to seek revenge, open the eyes of those around, but can he go through with it?
    Without going into more of the plot, I have to say that Leslie Stella has written a must read for EVERYONE, INCLUDING teachers, parents and students. Her writing was so deeply charged with emotion and detail, I felt I was there, watching this, unable to help. I was angry, sad and confused that adults would even go so far as to take advantage of Ben and his plight. Well written with well-defined characters, a moving and gritty plot, this is an amazing read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2013

    This was such a unique novel for me, in so many ways. First of

    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. It is a stark, tightrope depiction of a world in which quiet assimilation is the ultimate end goal, so long as one never loses sight of their all-imporant roots. This impossible balancing act is a struggle that ultimately ends in a sad kind of failure for all, and it is beautifully painted in the Hessamizadeh family -- right down to their attempt to Americanize their name by shedding the unpronounceable Persian portion to "Hess" at the onset of the novel.

    As Bud struggles to deal with the many demons in his life and his recent change to a new school to escape the constant bullying, it seems he might finally find a measure of peace in some new friends and a possible love interest.

    That is, until the terrors of his past come back to haunt him.

    The novel becomes a wonderful kind of mystery as Bud and his new friends Reggie and Nikki try to figure out why someone is trying to frame Bud for a series of problems at his new school.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I found Stella's writing to be insightful and her prose beautifully rendered.

    This novel is for anyone who ever found themselves on the fringes of anything, or ever questioned whether they might belong for even a moment.

    In other words . . . this novel should be for everyone.

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