Love Is a Revolution

Bloomsbury. Feb. 2021. 400p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781547600601.
Gr 7 Up–Nala Robertson has a three-pronged plan for the summer before her senior year. One—Find a new hairstyle. Two—Spend time with her cousin and best friend, Imani. Three—Find love. When she attends a talent show hosted by the community group that her cousin is involved in and meets the beautiful Tye Brown, it seems like Nala’s summer is shaping up the way she intended. Who cares if she tells a few white lies to get the civically minded Tye to think more highly of her? But as the summer progresses and Nala’s relationship with Tye deepens, she feels her cousin pulling away from her and starts to wonder how long she can keep up the ruse. This book explores many different forms of love: family, romantic, and self-love. Will Nala find the courage to love herself? The protagonist’s subtle humor pulls readers in, and while she occasionally muses on what it might be like to be wanted by others, she never wallows in self-pity. Notably, Nala’s self-image issues are not physical. She’s big and beautiful and comfortable in her body. Instead, her concern lies with her accomplishments, or what she perceives as a lack thereof. The cast of Black characters shines; each character is well-developed and relatable, even when they’re not particularly likable.
VERDICT In a time where books about teen activists, including Watson’s own Watch Us Rise, are plentiful and teens try to make the world a better place, this title sends the necessary message that sometimes it’s okay if the person you save is yourself.

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