Title: Not Here to Be Liked
Author: Michelle Quach
Published in: 2021
Rating: 4 stars
Not Here to Be Liked follows the story of Eliza, a Chinese Vietnamese American girl who loves working for her high school newspaper, the Bugle, and is content with her unassuming social position and asphalt-gray sweater. However, her life gets a lot more complicated—and interesting—when a less qualified boy runs against her for editor-in-chief of the Bugle and, incredibly, wins. In her frustration, she writes a manifesto blaming the election on misogyny; when someone posts it publicly, the backlash shakes the whole school community, leading to the formation of a feminist movement on campus. Eliza finds herself deeply entangled in a web of confusing social dynamics: in the span of just a few days, she finds herself swinging between popular heroine to shunned disappointment as her peers judge her words, actions, and evolving relationship with Len, the boy who defeated her in the fateful election.
I found this book engaging partly due to the social drama but also based on the deeper themes of feminism, discrimination, and judgment. I found the main character to be very relatable, particularly in her adversity to dressing nicely just to please others and her dismay at obsessing over a boy. The setting is mostly realistic, although different from my high school experience. I was a bit incredulous at the extent of an improvised high school feminist movement, but it made a scintillating story all the same. I highly recommend this book—it pulled me in and kept me up reading past my bedtime.
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