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Overachieving high school senior fakes getting into college in new young adult book

The cover for "This is Not a Personal Statement" and author Tracy Badua are shown side by side in an undated image.
Harper Collings / author photo by Amy Huang
The cover for "This is Not a Personal Statement" and author Tracy Badua are shown side by side in an undated image.

San Diego author Tracy Badua’s new young adult novel, “This is Not a Personal Statement” came out on Tuesday. It follows 16-year-old Perla Perez, the youngest graduating senior in her class and a well-known overachiever. But when she is rejected by the college of her dreams, her world is thrown into disarray and she forges an acceptance letter in a panic.

Through Perez, Badua said she wanted to dig into the outside pressures that many teenagers face, including parental expectations and a hypercompetitive school environment.

“I feel like teens these days are under such pressure to be everything all the time — to do all the extracurriculars, to get all the perfect scores,” Badua said. “But they’re still growing up. So that’s something I wanted to explore: What are we doing to teens with the kind of pressure we’re putting on them like this?”


This is Badua’s second book. She published her debut middle-grade novel, “Freddie vs. The Family Curse” last year and was also inspired by her Filipino American upbringing. Her third novel, “The Takeout,” is set to come out in May.

Badua spoke with Midday Edition about the book. She will also hold a discussion and signing event at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore at 7 p.m. Thursday.

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