Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance
Age Level: Young Adult
Release Date: September 14, 2021
Publisher: Harper Children’s
2.5 out of 5 stars
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.
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.
I love the representation in this book – specifically, all the Cantonese! I’ve read books with Mandarin in it and books with Vietnamese, but never Cantonese. It was so special being able to see myself portrayed in the little mannerisms, customs, and language in this story.
If you’ve read the summary, it’s obvious that feminism is a big topic in this book too. Heck, the entire plot of this book revolves around gender equality. It was so nice seeing that ingrained into a book and made me realize how often we see this in society today. I’m glad this book tackled this issue and I hope it raises awareness in our own circles.
Having said all that, I think this book was a good read, but still not one that I would automatically think of when recommending books to others.
The reason why I wasn’t able to give this book a high rating was due to the plot and characterization. The first ⅓ of the book was interesting and intriguing – it had a lot of promise and I really expected it to grow from there – but it didn’t. I found myself reading pages and pages of events and dialogue but a lot of it didn’t matter much or drive the plot forward.
Eliza Quan and Len DeMartile are our main characters. They are supposed to be enemies that later become lovers but I found that at the halfway point, I still didn’t really care about them much. This might be due to the fact that Eliza’s character was hard for me to like. She didn’t seem like someone I could sympathize for or fully understand. On the other hand, even though he seemed a little bit out of it, I like Len a bit more because he seemed more real. You can see how this was confusing for me because as the reader, I think I was supposed to like Eliza and dislike Len, but it was the opposite for me.
Eliza and Len also started having feelings for one another. While I can imagine why constantly working together can cause you to fall in love, I didn’t feel a lot of chemistry between the two. It seemed like they did a lot together for the sake of the school paper and just conveniently had various times alone. When they had their first kiss, I was actually shocked! I remember thinking, “huh?” and “what!” because it didn’t seem realistic for them to even want to kiss one another at that point yet.
Overall, I’m glad this book raised many good points related to feminism and qualifications for leadership roles. I’m glad the two main characters were able to not hate each other anymore. I’m glad the Cantonese language was represented here so well. But I probably wouldn’t recommend this one to others.
*A big thank you to Harper Children’s and HCC Frenzy for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest and fair review.
I just want to say the author, Michelle Quach is such a sweet and lovely person. I had the pleasure of chatting with her a little bit on Instagram. Although I didn’t love this book, I will definitely still check out anything else she writes in the future.
Check out her website!
Does this book look like something you’d read? Let me know what you think!