The book follows Perla Perez, a high school senior at one of California’s most competitive prep schools. Perla and her parents have curated the perfect plan for her, including skipping a few grades and starting as a college freshman at 16 years old. But when Perla gets a rejection letter instead of an acceptance from her dream school, things do not go to plan.
Perla Perez fakes her admission to Delmont University and attempts to keep up the charade until she can reapply for the Spring Semester. How hard could it be?
This is Not a Personal Statement is the most recent release by Tracey Badua, available now to pick up!
Summary: Admission meets American Panda in this propulsive, poignant YA contemporary novel about a teen who, after getting rejected from her dream college, forges her own acceptance and commits to living a lie. Perfect for fans of Mary H.K. Choi!
At sixteen, Perla is the youngest graduating senior of the hypercompetitive Monte Verde High. Praised—and not-so-quietly bashed—as “Perfect Perlie Perez,” Perla knows all the late nights, social isolation, and crushing stress will be worth it when she gets into the college of her (and her parents’) dreams: Delmont University. Then Perla doesn’t get in, and her meticulously planned future shatters. In a panic, she forges her own acceptance letter, and next thing she knows, she’s heading to Delmont for real, acceptance or not. Soon, Perla is breaking into dorm rooms, crashing classes, and dodging questions from new friends about her lack of a student ID. Her plan? Gather on-the-ground intel to beef up her application and reapply spring semester before she’s caught. But as her guilty conscience grows and campus security looms large, Perla starts to wonder if her plan will really succeed—and if this dream she’s worked for her entire life is something she even wants. From rising star Tracy Badua comes a gripping, incisive tale of acceptance, self-discovery, and the infinite possibilities that await when we embrace our imperfections.
Relatable Main Character
While we all might not go as far as to fake an acceptance letter and then pretend to attend a university we don’t go to, we are sure you’ll find a piece of yourself in Perla Perez. Maybe it’s the feeling of being an outlier at school or the intense stress that academics and others place on our shoulders. Or maybe it’s some of her humorous internal dialogue.
Perla certainly makes questionable decisions throughout the story, but you can’t help but root for her, too!
“Attentively examining themes of guilt and outside pressures with cultural nuance and plenty of good-humored scheming, Badua cultivates a high-stakes narrative of self-discovery and the dangers in pursuing perfection.”– Publishers Weekly
Fast Moving Plot
Once we got started, we could not stop reading. The storyline moves quickly, and you find yourself on the edge of your seat, wondering if Perla can pull this off or will everything will spiral out of control. It’s hard to stop when you get started, and we can guarantee this will be a quick read for that reason.
Some of the best coming-of-age stories focus on the arc of character development. This is incredibly prevalent in This is Not a Personal Statement. Perla Perez starts her journey crumbling under the pressure to be Perfect Perlie Perez and ends the story has realized that trying her best is all that matters. She battles guilt and unrealistic expectations but comes out on the other side as a new person.
Loveable Side Characters
Aside from Perla, we meet all kinds of new characters at Delmont University. The author does a great job of creating fleshed-out side characters and making them feel as accurate as the main character. You find yourself rooting for characters such as Tessa and Camilla and wanting to know their story outside of Perla’s.
If this review hasn’t swayed you to pick up This Is Not a Personal Statement, we don’t know what will. It is filled with ups and downs, questionable decisions, and self-discovery.
Have you picked up Perla Perez’s new story yet? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @TheHoneyPOP. Be sure to check out Tracey Badua’s social media to stay up to date on her new releases!
Do you think you could outsmart Delmont University? Take the “Caught or Not” quiz and find out!