Title: Not Here to be Liked (review copy)
Author: Michelle Quach
Genre/Themes: Contemporary YA, High School Feminism
Blurb from Goodreads
Falling in love wasn’t part of the plan.
Eliza Quan fully expects to be voted the next editor in chief of her school paper. She works hard, she respects the facts, and she has the most experience. Len DiMartile is an injured star baseball player who seems to have joined the paper just to have something to do. Naturally, the staff picks Len to be their next leader. Because while they may respect Eliza, they don’t particularly like her - but right now, Eliza is not here to be liked. She’s here to win.
But someone does like Eliza. A lot.
Shame it’s the boy standing in the way of her becoming editor in chief…
Irresistible enemies-to-lovers story, Not Here to be Liked by Michelle Quach, is taking TikTok by storm.
Not Here to be Liked is a refreshing YA read. Unlike many other YA books that tackle the topic of feminism this one is delightfully nuanced. The cast of characters are allowed to be fallible in that on one hand they’re practically swearing an oath to the feminist cause but are also shown to be complicit in furthering the internalised misogyny that society is riddled with. No one character has got it all figured out especially not our main character Eliza.
Eliza at times was almost blinkered by her desire to be feminist and “not like other girls”. She proudly wore the title of unlikeable because she (rightly) believed that ours should be a meritocracy whereby she should be rewarded for how hard she worked and not for how amenable she was. And this belief ended up with her becoming some sort of poster child for feminism at her school.
But of course in an environment whereby everyone was figuring out what exactly it meant to be a “good feminist” versus a “bad feminist” it meant that Eliza’s moniker of leader of the proud feminists came with a caveat in that she should only act a certain way, and shouldn’t like certain boys…
The book showed that much like how patriarchal society expects women to smile more and be subservient to men, that the high school brand of feminism these characters were attempting to navigate also placed expectations and limitations on its followers. The story tackled issues of slut shaming, school politics, stereotyping, parental pressures, what feminism could mean within marriages, and a lot more besides. The main characters all had their own interesting little character arcs which allowed them to grow and change as people which was really great to read.
However, while I loved the dialogue this book created around the topic of feminism I did have a few bugbears.
To me the narrative pacing felt off. For example, the main characters spent too long discussing a feminist protest they were planning and when it eventually occurred it somehow felt underwhelming in the way it was written. The book was just too drawn out and would have benefited from further editing imo. And as for the male love interest / rival Len; I just never felt he was as dynamic a character as Eliza and frankly felt rather bland in comparison to her passionate nature. His story arc was the most disappointing to me.
But overall this was an enjoyable read that I would happily recommend to any reader who enjoys reading about topical issues that teens are dealing with in society today.
*An e-copy was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley for honest review*
- Publication Date: 16th September 2021
- Publisher: Usborne