*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: Not Here to Be Liked
Author: Michelle Quach
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: September 14, 2021
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Eliza Quan is the perfect candidate for editor in chief of her school paper. That is, until ex-jock Len DiMartile decides on a whim to run against her. Suddenly her vast qualifications mean squat because inexperienced Len—who is tall, handsome, and male—just seems more like a leader. When Eliza’s frustration spills out in a viral essay, she finds herself inspiring a feminist movement she never meant to start, caught between those who believe she’s a gender equality champion and others who think she’s simply crying misogyny. But as they get to know one another, Eliza feels increasingly trapped by a horrifying realization—she just might be falling for the face of the patriarchy himself.
I’m living for the YA romcoms these days, and Not Here to Be Liked was the perfect next read for me. Eliza Quan is a generally unlikeable character to her peers, but I found her absolutely endearing. She’s described as intense, a slob, standoffish. But she’s a girl who’s always been true to herself and never done anything to please anyone else. When she suddenly finds herself at the forefront of a feminist movement in her school, she suddenly begins to question her feelings for a boy who stands as the antithesis to her Lady Justice. This boy is the epitome of the patriarchy, but he’s also sweet, genuine, and irresistibly cute.
This book is a whirl of strong female characters, beautiful friendships, feminist ideals, ambitious women, and sweet romance. It tackles topics of sexism, the patriarchy, and mysogyny. Characters who think they’re making strides to eliminate sexism find themselves perpetrating internalized sexist ideals without even realizing their error. The conversation is blown wide open as female students begin to call out inequality and point out the wrongs of others, but they often stride forward with such intensity that they fail to turn the mirrors on themselves to recognize their own misplaced opinions.
What I loved is how robust so many of the characters are and how fully they develop as the story progresses. It’s not just Eliza who is the focus of this story. Her friends Serena and Winona transform throughout the story and grow into wonderful, understanding, and thoughtful young women. This book is a journey of self-discovery for so many characters. Their understanding of themselves as women and as feminists grows as they begin to challenge and understand the patriarchy and the male-dominated system that has governed their school. As terms like “feminazi” and “slut” are thrown around, the students question each others’ true motives and try to make change for the better in their institution. The sweet romance plot on the side also helps to inject this story full of lightness and fluff.
This is a very sweet story and it’s very timeline with it’s discussions of women and equality. It’s an excellent story for young readers.