Permanent Record. By Leslie Stella. 7 CDs. 7:57 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 978-1-4692-8246-6. $69.97.
Gr 9 Up–In present day Chicago, an Iranian-American teenager is forced to transfer schools after repeated occurrences of bullying drive him over the edge. Fresh off a suicide attempt, Badi tries to begin anew atMagnificatAcademy. At first things aren’t so bad. He even makes a friend turned love interest, but when an anonymous writer begins sending letters to the school paper predicting a school tragedy, Badi quickly comes under suspicion. His depression, thinly veiled rage, and knack for explosives all make him look guilty. But in a post-9/11 world, it’s his skin tone that really puts him under the microscope. Stella has written a dark, humorous, realistic novel (Skyscape, 2013) about the effects of bullying on teen life. The depictions of racism and living with depression are skillfully presented, making it easy for listeners to relate to the situations. Nick Podehl’s narration is masterful. Each character comes to life with a vibrant energy that makes it easy to differentiate one from another. Stella did not write Badi as an overwhelmingly loveable character, and Podehl’s interpretation of him remains true to those intentions. Teens can learn a great deal from the 16-year-old’s experiences, and the novel is a must-have for all school or public libraries.–Jennifer Furuyama, Pendleton Public Library, OR