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.
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Eliza is a very practical young woman, and doesn't have any interest in "being pretty" like her sister Kim. It interferes with her work on the newspaper, and since she is motivated to make the Wall of Editors so she will go down in posterity, she's rather spend her time on her investigative journalism. It's great to see this kind of passion in a high school student, even if I have to tell her that in 20 years, no one will even notice her picture in the Wall of Editors. (Says someone who was once very proud of being included on the Senior Service Award plaque in high school orchestra. I'm sure that after 40 years, the plaque is long gone!)
Even though Len is a bit annoying, and Eliza has more pressing matters to concern her, there is some romance. This makes sense. It's high school. She and Len have a lot in common, and do get along in a lot of ways. I appreciated that it wasn't one of these love/hate relationships that are so common in teen literature. Sure, she's annoyed by him, but he's cute and interesting. And interested in her. This is a pretty solid basis for a high school relationship.
There are lots of middle grade books about school newspapers, which seems odd to me, but it makes perfect sense to center a book around the much more prevalent high school newspaper scene. Hand this to readers who enjoyed Smith's Hearts Unbroken, Lehrman's The Last Best Story, or Doktorski's Famous Last Words. This also put me a little in mind of Goo's The Way You Make Me Feel, but with the newspaper instead of a food truck, mainly because I think Clara and Eliza would get along well.