Hey booklovers I am back with another young adult novel review. This week I am reviewing Michelle Quach’s Not Here to Be liked a contemporary Young Adult novel that was released in 2021. This book has a bit of a forbidden romance, teen drama, and a cute boba date!
Eliza Quan’s dreams of becoming editor in chief of her high school newspaper. Luckily, she’s the only one vying for the job, and with years of working at the paper she’s the hottest choice. On the day of elections, Len— a former baseball player and new writer to the paper—decides to run as editor in chief too. Eliza’s not fazed until Len gives the most charming speech that leaves everyone swooning.
Len wins the election. And Eliza’s distraught about the decision that the only way she knows how to express her feelings is to write an article about the decision. Eliza feels that she’s been cheated out of the position because Len is friendlier and male. She supports this argument by citing that the school paper and many other schools club have lacked female leaders. Despite her passionate argument, Eliza never plans to publish her article content to let it live on the cloud, except someone at the paper publishes her article anyways. Eliza gains many supporters but also haters who believe she’s playing victim.
And then there’s Len, who is not bothered by the article and admits Eliza is the more experienced out of the two for the job. She still annoyed at Len, but then a group project and an newspaper article throws the two together, and Eliza realizes that’s Len’s not just charming but intelligent too. And as much as she doesn’t want to, she enjoys his company.
Despite her crush on Len, Eliza knows she cannot publicly date him even if she wished. Half her school has sided with her on the issue, and she knows that dating Len will be the worst kind of betrayal. But Len’s hiding a secret of his own, and it could threaten their budding relationship.
I overall enjoyed this novel, and I do agree with other reviewers who have commented that Eliza is a bit annoying. But I think that’s essential to her character. Eliza comes across as mean by her peers at the newspaper. Although it’s clear that’s not her intention at all. She’s also very passionate about her feelings and organizes a walkout to protest unfairness, creates feminist buttons, and unintentionally becomes her school’s feminist icon. I did not fault Eliza for any of this because it added some layers to the story. However, I did note that her definition of feminism was a little outdated.
I am unsure if that was the author’s intent because Eliza’s best friend Winona is a black woman, and she is very mindful of how she’s perceived. Winona comments in this story that she does not want to perpetrate the angry black woman stereotype. Additionally Winona’s entire family makes it a point to be as friendly as possible with all their neighbors. Despite living in a wealthy neighborhood. However in this story Eliza believes feminism is only about gender equality when it has evolved to encapsulate race and class differences as well.
The reason I think the author might have made the definition of feminism a bit antiquated is because Eliza is young and a little naive. Eliza is in a bit of a bubble in her well-funded high school and in her own community. Eliza never mentions racial prejudices or discrimination. Like honestly love that for Eliza but I think discrimination does exist in this novel’s world given the way Winona navigates her life. The only class difference we see Eliza experience is through her parents, her father is a cook at a restaurant but later becomes unemployed. I thought class differences might play a bigger role in Eliza’s feelings, but they did not. Despite her other wealthy classmates, Eliza’s not treated any differently or embarrassed by it.
I think Eliza’s definition is narrowed because gender inequality is one of the only things she’s ever felt injustice from. Plus, this definition of feminism works better with the plot of this novel. This is smply my speculation, and I thought I would mention it because feminism is such a big theme in this story.
While Eliza annoyed me. I can’t say the same for her best friend Winona. Winona is Eliza’s best friend, and she encourages Eliza to stand up for her beliefs. But Winona’s also a filmmaker, and in the story Eliza helps her film and refilm various takes for a short film she wants to enter in a contest. I loved reading these scenes because I found it fascinating the way Winona set up scenes to tell her story. But of course, Winona’s a perfectionist, so she ends up reshooting a lot of scenes.
Overall if you like enjoy YA and teen romance you’ll probably enjoy Not here to be liked.
Until next time book lovers I’ll be living in libros,
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