This Is Not a Personal Statement

HarperCollins/Quill Tree. Jan. 2023. 352p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780063217751.
Gr 9 Up–Anxiety radiates off 16-year-old high school graduate Perla Perez and off the page in Badua’s YA debut, when Perez moves onto the campus of an elite college—a school she was not accepted to. The pressure from her perfectionist parents leaves her spiraling as she fakes an acceptance letter and then attempts to survive at a college that didn’t choose her. Her planning spreadsheet can only account for so many shoes to drop, and as the semester careens to an end, Perla careens towards a confrontation not only with her parents and friends, but with herself. Full of thoughtful exploration of the pressure of immigrant parents and elitism in college admissions, this book also brings a unique zest to the “college novel” that makes it ideal for teens who have not yet graduated. While the prose sometimes feels stilted, it also reflects how Perla’s strict upbringing has impacted her inner dialogue. She is Filipina American.
VERDICT Perfect for fans of imperfect protagonists and “can’t look away from the car crash”–stories.

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