Review: Not Here to Be Liked

Young woman leaning on a desk. Behind her is a young man with his back to her. He is at a desk, but is looking back over his shoulder at the young woman.

Not Here to Be Liked by Michelle Quach

Summary: 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.Young woman leaning on a desk. Behind her is a young man with his back to her. He is at a desk, but is looking back over his shoulder at the young woman.

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.

Amid this growing tension, the school asks Eliza and Len to work side by side to demonstrate civility. 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.

My Thoughts: Eliza wants to make a difference in the world and being liked by everyone around her is not anywhere in her plans. She puts in the work and expects that to be enough to work toward her goals. When she bumps up against the reality that likability, looks, or charm can outweigh any other qualification, particularly for young men in her school, her frustration boils over and readers can see her and those around her questioning a lot about their school and the broader society. What makes a good leader? Does the answer to that question vary when gender comes into play? What does it mean to be a feminist? What role does sexism have in the spaces we move through? How do the intersection of things like gender, race, and class play out in relation to justice in the legal system? 

These are all important and timely questions that readers can also ponder for themselves. It seemed so true to life as she was making decisions and weighing whether her thoughts and actions were in line with what she thought a good feminist would think or do. I cannot even begin to count the many times I have entered into that type of thinking. With all of this swirling in her head and her life, romance pops up to complicate and confuse Eliza even more.

There are some fairly typical happenings within the romance, but that is part of the appeal of romances–for me anyway. I appreciate a little predictability within romcoms. The storyline still had a few surprises though.

Recommendation: Get it soon—especially if you enjoy contemporary romances. It’s a fun romantic comedy that also manages to point out the many inequities that are still in existence throughout our society.

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 384
Review copy: ARC via publisher
Availability: On shelves Sept. 14, 2021

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