New YA Book Alert : Not Here To Be Liked By Michelle Quach
Updated: Dec 20, 2021
Asian Immigration Representation, Challenged Sexism & Stereotypes, Family Dynamics, Enemies to Lovers trope, Feminism, Self-aware characters, sisterhood and female friendships, a thoughtful ending for a YA Book - Are you sold already?
Eliza Quan, a Chinese-Vietnamese-American teen is the most qualified person to be the next editor-in-chief of the Bugle, her school newspaper. Her teammates, her family and almost the entire school knows of her unopposed election. Suddenly, Len DiMartile, a former baseball star who has been a part of Bugle just for a short time, announces that he will be running for the election too. Eliza has nothing to worry about since she knows she is going to win. That does not happen. Len grabs the position because the voters feel Eliza is 'too bossy and cold'. Feeling betrayed and furious, Eliza writes an angry article on feminism and patriarchy that gets published accidentally. It starts a movement in the school. A walkout is held to call out all the sexist norms but majorly for Len to resign. Will he resign?
Before I tell more about the book, let me announce to the world that I have found the book where I match 80% of the lead character traits. I related to Eliza’s character like no other. I know, I know, she is very unlikable. The title says it all. I have been there. I was the editor-in-chief for the college newsletter, always asking for drafts, sending them back for corrections, being overly critical and cold-hearted, following up with the team constantly, covering events. I do not think people liked me much. And also, wearing comfortable clothes over stylish and not abiding the standard requirements of looking good. Lastly, having my principles and being outspoken. Pretty much like Eliza. Relating this much to the lead character is a huge deal. Nevertheless, the book also called me out sometimes. The relatability made me love Eliza’s growth throughout the book. Speaking of characters, I liked Len, Eliza’s rival but would have loved to know more about his story.
The book looks like proper enemies to lovers story, but it has much more to offer. It covers the themes like feminism, immigration, Asian representation, teenage struggles, friendships and love. I liked the discussion around these topics. It is also made me realize how these broader terms mean different things to us at different ages. The meanings of these terms evolve as we do. These topics are seen from an immigrant's perspective. Also, the family dynamics is something we miss in YA books, but it has it all. I loved that part too, even more, because it involved an immigrant family.
I felt the book dragged a little in the middle because 400 pages were too much for this story. But since it is fast-paced, it was easier to finish. The last 20% was exciting to read, quite happy with the mature ending and closure of the events. Something different for this genre. You can give it a shot.
Thank you HarperCollins India ( After School Tales) for the advanced reader copy.