cover image Love Is a Revolution

Love Is a Revolution

Renée Watson. Bloomsbury, $18.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-5476-0060-1

Through the misadventures of Black 17-year-old Nala Robertson, Watson (Ways to Make Sunshine) pens a love letter to community, family, and self-love. Tired of being compared to her overachieving “cousin-sister-friend” Imani, Nala, who is plus-size, just wants to be loved. But when Nala meets Tye at a function for Inspire Harlem—a community service organization where Tye and Imani are members—Nala fears Tye won’t like her if she acts like herself. So she lies, getting her close enough to her dream boy that sparks fly. But the more time Nala spends with Tye, the more she wants him to love her for who she really is—just as soon as she figures out what that looks like. Watson excels at creating well-meaning teen characters laboring under peer pressure and parental expectations. Interspersed with Nala’s heartfelt lists for living and resonant song lyrics by her favorite fictional musician, the messy complexity of Nala’s internal life, including her deception and judgement of others, makes for a read that’s simultaneously relatable and frustrating. While Nala’s unwillingness to be authentic makes her relationship a hard sell, Nala herself has the makings of an appreciably flawed character blazing her own distinctive path, however many mistakes that takes. Ages 13–up. [em]Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary. (Feb.) [/em]