Review – Love is a Revolution by Renée Watson

I’ve found that the books I end up truly truly loving are the ones I cannot stop thinking about days after I have finished reading them. This is one of those books.

Here is the glorious cover and synopsis before I get into my slightly spoilery (but not really) review!

“The most radical thing you can do is love yourself and each other.”

When Nala Robertson reluctantly agrees to attend an open mic night for her cousin-sister-friend Imani’s birthday, she finds herself falling in instant love with Tye Brown, the MC. He’s perfect, except . . . Tye is an activist and is spending the summer putting on events for the community when Nala would rather watch movies and try out the new seasonal flavors at the local creamery. In order to impress Tye, Nala tells a few tiny lies to have enough in common with him. As they spend more time together, sharing more of themselves, some of those lies get harder to keep up. As Nala falls deeper into keeping up her lies and into love, she’ll learn all the ways love is hard, and how self-love is revolutionary.

In Love Is a Revolution, plus size girls are beautiful and get the attention of the hot guys, the popular girl clique is not shallow but has strong convictions and substance, and the ultimate love story is not only about romance but about how to show radical love to the people in your life, including to yourself.

Love is a Revolution is actually the first book I grasped from my February TBR and read cover to cover as soon as it came out. It brought such a light heartedness to these harsh and cold winter days and brought me back to being in 7th grade and reading Sarah Dessen books until dawn.

The main character Nala had me wishing so freaking hard that I had a character like her in the books I read growing up. Seeing a woman of colour, who is plus sized, obsessed with makeup and looking cute, and dealing with real life shit was so rare to find. Nala is so uncertain of herself, shy but not really, proud of herself despite changing parts of herself for other people, and a reminder to all of us that self-love is essential in all aspects of your life. Her interaction with the other characters, especially her cousin Imani, was realistic and raw. Honestly, I love this character so much.

The romance… eeeeee… okay so I will say, without giving much away, that Nala and Tye are another rare find in YA contemporary. They are both flawed. They are both, at times, horribly wrong for the other. They are both people you want to see together and want to see apart. Most of the YA contemporary books I read… the guy is too perfect, or the girl is the only one with major red flags that need some TLC and by the end of the book they are a match made in heaven. Love is a Revolution defys that and brings you realness in a couple. A young couple who have a lot to learn about themselves and their world.

The entire plot of the book itself was so heart-warming and had me smiling every flip of the page. It was set in summer in New York City! The culture, the places and world-building, omg the food that was described… it all made me want to go to New York and walk in that summer night breeze. The events that led up to the big reveal and the entire message of the book… it kept me on the edge of my seat but also desperately trying to slow down my reading so I can savour every word.

Really though, this book did something that no other has done in a while. It made me reflect on myself. How much of myself have I tried to hide from people because I am scared of their judgement? Or how much of myself do I not like and haven’t made the effort to change for the better?

Nala does something in this book that flips the switch on society, something young women and men should do as well… she defines herself to her own standards. Not to anyone else’s despite how badly she wanted something or someone.

Tye did something that puts more perspective into my mind. He reflects on the expectations society has put on young black men. The scene where he talks about it, describes the pressure… I had to take a breath and re-read it.

Renée wrote a book that gave me hope that minorities of all kinds can tell their stories and that they are coming in strong. I hope more books like these find their way into bookstores.

If you or someone in your life is in their teens… this is the book to recommend them. If you or someone in your life is in need of a reminder that you matter, that you are worthy of all the best things… this is the book to recommend them.

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