ARC Review: Not Here to Be Liked by Michelle Quach

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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ARC Review: Not Here to Be Liked by Michelle Quach
Not Here to Be Liked

5 Stars

Book Info

Released: September 14 2021
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 381
Format: eARC

“You will absolutely not regret the perspectives you will take from these characters and their stories.”

~ Under the Covers

Recommended Read!

“‘I like Len just fine. But you can tell, he just doesn’t really have to try.’ She eases to a stop in front of his house and shuts off the engine, restoring a calm around us. ‘Maybe it’s time that mattered.’”

This book, y’all. This review is possibly the most intimidating review I’ve ever had to write. I’m scared. Why? Because there’s no possible way I could do this book justice. But here goes.

Eliza Quan is not here to be liked. She knows that’s not her purpose, so she doesn’t see the point in “dressing to impress” or any other subtle misogynistic customs of the world today. Plus, she knows she’ll be voted in as editor-in-chief for her school’s newspaper because a) she’s crazy qualified and b) she’s running unopposed – it won’t be because she dressed up or because she’s “nice.”

Until she’s passed over by an unqualified ex-jock who rarely speaks to anyone else at the Bugle because he gave a nice speech about “belonging” and because “he seems like more of a leader.” Eliza recognizes this moment as evidence of the patriarchy and writes a scalding essay about the sexist ideals the school continually ignores, the ones that aren’t so obvious. But someone posts the essay, one she never really meant for anyone to see – and everyone at the school reads it. As the catalyst of a rising feminist movement, she calls for an awakening at her school and for her ursurper to resign and give her back the position she deserved. But as she works with him, she begins to actually… like him? Maybe more than that? And what does that mean for her movement? Does it make her a bad feminist?

And suddenly everything becomes a lot more complicated. Women are counting on her to fight for them, but how can she be their leader when she’s falling for the enemy?

“‘Well, I just have one more thing to say.’
‘Just one, huh?’
‘I don’t think being afraid is a good reason for anything.’”

This book is just incredible.

I won’t lie, the synopsis intrigued me from the get-go, but the term “feminism” worried me because that word could truly mean anything. But I decided to give it a shot and see what perspective Quach decided to take. And boy, was that a good decision.

Not Here to Be Liked is perfect on every level. Honestly. I could talk forever about the cast of characters. I mean, for being an “unlikeable” character, I kinda… liked her? She’s so unabashedly herself, even at the beginning, when that meant being kind of a harsh editor, the brutally honest kind of person. She was still her, and I admire that so much. And then her character development!! She learns more about herself and how she can still be true to herself but not hold herself to such restricting rules, that she’s allowed to express herself in ways that may be considered too feminine for a feminist. And then LEN!!! I am in love with him?! Like actually?! His character is also so complicated because he hides so much of his true depth behind a thin mask of snarky charm. And to see him through Eliza’s eyes – it’s so easy to see why she would fall in love with him. And then there are the supporting characters, the most notable being Winona, Eliza’s best friend who perhaps has more to lose in this feminist movement because she’s Black, and Serena, the gorgeous popular girl who has a surprising awareness of how exhausting being a female can be.

I could also talk forever about the romance. Eliza and Len’s development is TOP-NOTCH. They’re clearly enemies at first, what with her calling him “the face of the patriarchy” and all that. Then there’s some forced proximity because the principal makes them work together on their stories so they can “make up.” Then, when they become friends (and possibly more), they can’t really let anyone know because Eliza’s whole movement would be undermined. But throughout their various conflicts, they have such an amazing romantic development and end up with the kind of relationship I pray for someday.

But what is most compelling about this story is the nuance of the feminist perspectives Quach presents. The point of this book is that feminism, like most (if not all) social issues, is not cut-and-dry. It’s not easy, or simple, or evenly divided between the morally good and the morally bad. That’s not how the world works. Eliza thinks she’s right at the beginning, but as she leads other girls through this feminist movement, she begins to wonder if she is actually wrong? And she carries this guilt because she feels like a bad feminist for exploring different perspectives on what it means to be a woman, or even what it means for a man to be a man. The nuances presented are just so extraordinary.

And the book doesn’t end with everyone having all the answers and now the whole school is perfectly gender-equal and perfect. But it starts a conversation suggesting that perhaps we (women and men alike) should ponder what feminism means to us and consider how we want the world to look.

“‘Because feminism, contrary to popular belief, isn’t about hating on guys like me. It’s about all of us working toward equality, together.’”

So I want to recommend this book to literally all of you. And I didn’t even talk about the Asian representation and the immigrant stories presented in the book, GAH I literally cannot write any more though. Goodness, just please take my advice and read this book. You will absolutely not regret the perspectives you will take from these characters and their stories.

What did you think of our review?
Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!

About Michelle Quach

Michelle Quach (rhymes with “rock”) is a graphic designer and writer living in Los Angeles. She’s Chinese-Vietnamese-American and a graduate of Harvard University, where she studied history and literature. She loves rom-coms, characters who don't always do the right thing, and any dog that kind of looks like her dog.

Her first novel, NOT HERE TO BE LIKED, is available Fall 2021 from Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins in the US and Usborne Books in the UK.

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ARC Review: Not Here to Be Liked by Michelle QuachARC Review: Not Here to Be Liked by Michelle Quach

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Darynda Jones

Sounds amazing! Thanks for the review!

K. A Bylsma

What a wonderful review! Looking forward to reading this… Thank you!

Amy R

Thanks for the review.