About the Book

Title: Not Here to Be Liked
Published: 2021
Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Cover Story: Cartoon Cutesy
BFF Charm: Eventually
Talky Talk: Straight Up
Bonus Factors: School Newspaper, Feminism
Relationship Status: Fun While It Lasted

Cover Story: Cartoon Cutesy

Y’alllllllll. I’m just gonna come out and say it: I’m over the cartoon covers. ALL BOOKS LOOK THE SAME. I’ve completely run out of cartoon cover commentary. This one is fine – I’m not sure why everyone is lying on the floor, but the daisies are cute!

The Deal:

Eliza Quan has spent the last few years busting ass for her school paper. She’s the managing editor, she’s good at what she does, and she works hard to be the best. Now it’s time to vote for next year’s editor-in-chief and she feels pretty confident she’s got this one in the bag. Being the first female editor in her school’s history is just icing on the cake.

But on voting day, former baseball star Len DiMartile decides to throw his hat in the ring for editor at the last minute. He’s got a pretty lax attitude about most things school related, including the paper, but he gives a charming speech and WHADDAYA know, the staff chooses Len as editor over Eliza.

In her fury, Eliza writes a feminist manifesto that was never meant for the public eye, so naturally, someone publishes it to the newspaper’s home page. There’s backlash at first, but soon the girls at school are organizing a feminist movement with Eliza at the helm.

The only problem? Eliza may be catching feelings for the guy standing in her way.

BFF Charm: Eventually

BFF Charm with a sweatband on

Eliza is smart, a hard-worker, and passionate about what she does. She’s also a little prickly and can be, well, bitchy. But that’s okay, because as women, we don’t HAVE to be nice all the time. This book actually had me examining my own biases every time I found Eliza slightly unlikeable. Was she a bitch or was she just not bubbly or overly friendly? Was she bossy or simply direct? Was she arrogant or simply ambitious? Either way, she freaking DESERVED to be editor of that school paper and I was furious on her behalf that some jock decided to spice up a race that she should’ve had in the bag. And when he won? FURIOUS.

And yes, if you sense bitterness in my tone, I DID, in fact, lose a student council election to a jock in high school by seven votes.

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Len DiMartile is, in a lot of ways, just like the type of guy I would’ve had a crush on in high school. He’s chill, a little mysterious, has an interesting point of view, is a talented writer. But even when he and Eliza started to grow closer, I could never get past my resentment. Just the fact that he thought “what the hell, I’ll put my name in to be editor” when Eliza had been working for that job for years made me dislike him. Maybe that bias against him was blinding me to some swoony moments, but when the romance started to amp up a bit, I felt almost taken aback. Like I knew it was gonna happen (it’s in the blurb!), but it seemed like it happened too fast. I needed Len to work a little harder for it.

Talky Talk: Straight Up

There are a lot of themes at play in the book, and for the most part Quach doesn’t really dig deep into any of them. The messaging about feminism was pretty basic, and only really skimmed the surface of intersectionality. Part of me wants to say, “Well sure but she’s writing for teenagers who may just be learning about these things.” And part of me thinks that the generations younger than I am could probably school me on these things. However, I did love the representation of Chinese-Vietnamese immigrants and the family dynamics in the Quan household.

Bonus Factor: School Newspaper

Girl reading a newpaper on steps with backpack and laptop

My high school’s newspaper was a joke, so I’m always interested in YA books that have student journalists who actually know things and do stuff.

Bonus Factor: Feminism

Raised fists in different skin tones wearing nail polish

This book may not deep dive into the nuances of feminism but it did have me (and Eliza) questioning some inherent biases, which is always a good thing.

Relationship Status: Fun While It Lasted

I enjoyed my time with you, Book, but ultimately there wasn’t anything hugely unique about you. It felt like you were teaching me lessons I already knew. I hope you’ll find someone new who will appreciate what you’re all about.

Literary Matchmaking


For another YA story where a student starts a feminist movement, check out Jennifer Mathieu’s Moxie.

What’s Not to Love

Emily Wibberley and Austin Sigemund-Broke’s What Not to Love is about two student journalists competing to be top dog.

I Believe in a Thing Called Love

Desi is an overachiever in all aspects, but an ultimate failure when it comes to love in Maurene Goo’s I Believe In a Thing Called Love.

FTC Full Disclosure: I did not receive money or Girl Scout cookies of any kind (not even the gross cranberry ones) for writing this reviewNot Here to be Liked is available now.

Rosemary lives in Little Rock, AR with her husband and cocker spaniel. At 16, she plucked a copy of Sloppy Firsts off the "New Releases" shelf and hasn't stopped reading YA since. She is a brand designer who loves tiki drinks, her mid-century modern house, and obsessive Google mapping.