Book Reviews

Review: This is Not a Personal Statement by Tracy Badua

This YA Contemporary is emotional and heartfelt all at once. Speaking about the pressures of college, This is Not a Personal Statement is a must read for all teens. It explores the pressures we put on ourselves and the ones we inherit. The ‘value’ of colleges and the stigmas associated with it. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


An incisive, relatable tale of acceptance, self-discovery, and the infinite possibilities that await when we embrace our imperfections.

As the youngest graduating senior at her hypercompetitive high school, Perla Perez is certain 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. Perla’s 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.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

The pressures for Perla from the very beginning had my heart breaking. How it feels like we’re on the precipice of ruin. This toxic pressure of college and the name brands associated with it. But where This is Not a Personal Statement also excels is the way in which it also examines the generational pressures. How her immigrant parents and even generations before, have sacrificed for our dreams. For these chances and possibilities they never had before. And those unique pressures.

And how for people of color, her struggles, dreams, and pressures are also tied to racism. To the fact that she can’t afford to be anything less than perfect because that’s enough of an excuse to write her off. All the ways in which her behavior also reflects on her ethnicity and visa versa. I felt so bad for Perla the entire book because of this pressure and what she feels forced to do. I know there’s always this idea that diamonds are born under pressure, but there comes a time when it’s too much pressure and we can crack.

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In This is Not a Personal Statement, Badua explores that feeling of when we are so focused on a path, we miss what is in front of us. Where our heart lies. And this conflict is also so central to the book, to Perla’s character journey. How she feels living a life with dreams which aren’t wholly hers. In a society where everything seems to be about precisely where you go to college and what that means about our value. This is Not a Personal Statement is heart wrenching and is sure to resonate with teens. It’s one of those books which I’m going to be keeping an eye on for the holiday season. Find This is Not a Personal Statement on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


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