Parents' Guide to

Permanent Record

By Joe Applegate, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Complex story about a Muslim teen confronting bullies.

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Author Leslie Stella succeeds in taking us into the psyche of a smart and well-meaning teen who's nearly driven mad by bullies obsessed with his Iranian Muslim heritage. "Telling people the truth about yourself is like daring them to screw with you," says 16-year-old Bud Hess, known as Badi Hessamizadeh before his father decided to change the boy's name to give him a fresh start.

Bud dominates the book; no other character comes to life, except perhaps his father, who's funny from a teen's point of view in trying so hard to do well by his son and failing so miserably. Some young readers will notice that Bud, who's ashamed of being bullied, gets no real help until he talks about it. With all its insights into one well-drawn character, the book offers a pretty routine plot and an ending that may be more implausible than surprising.

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