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Love is a Revolution by Renée Watson

“A story about loving yourself and embracing who you are, Love is a Revolution creates a profound and beautiful message.” 

Cecelia Beckman, Sheaf & Ink

The Story

Nala Robertson has a list of things she wants to do this summer: from changing her hair style to spending time with her cousin.  But her top priority is falling in love.

And when she attends an open mic for a local teen activist event, she falls instantly for a boy named Tye Brown.  They’re complete opposites, but Nala is ready to do anything to catch Tye’s attention.  Even if she has to lie.

My Review: Love is a Revolution

I loved Watson’s underlining message and how it connects perfectly with the title.  A message about self-worth and love.  Knowing there are different types of love.  The first to be recognized and understood is the love you have for yourself.  This was very insightful and meaningful.  I can see how this would be particularly important for young people as they try and navigate their way through what can sometimes be described as a maelstrom of the high school experience. Once finding that love, which has no judgement or limitations or constraints, it is something worth fighting for.

Even though Watson creates this beautiful message there were aspects of her novel that were difficult to overlook.  The relationship between Tye and Nala was confusing.  It wasn’t clear when their relationship as a couple began. There was a point when Nala confronts Tye with the question of if they were together as a couple, but the build up to that moment and the moments thereafter felt forced.

More Thoughts

Instant love can be a difficult trope, but when done well, readers can appreciate the connection, chemistry, and swoon worthy moments of the relationship over the course of the novel.  However, in Love is a Revolution that wasn’t the case. 

The foundation of Nala and Tye’s relationship was based on a lie.  Further, there were scenes with these two that felt stagnant and had missed opportunities in fully addressing who these characters are and why they actually liked each other.  Where Nala and Tye could have begun to fully explore their actual similarities in more depth and potentially lead them to a more solid framework while working out their differences.  And with a predictable outcome, the ending, although sweet, felt contrived.

My only other concern was the writing itself.  It felt at times mechanical.  Where the text read more like a list of things happening rather than describing the interactions of the characters in a solidified way.  At times, there wasn’t an even flow. 

For example, there would be continuous dialogue, but no pause or reflection or reaction to what the characters were discussing.  Similarly, when there are exposition passages, they feel again like a list of things surrounding them, but not alluding to how this affects the main character or how it drives the scene.

A Few More Thoughts

At the same time there were these thoughtful moments and scenes that were utterly inspiring.  They stood out like a sunset with the most vibrant of hues, the image leaving a permanent imprint because of its beauty.  When Nala begins to start her quest to impress Tye she starts with her hair. 

She wants to go for a more natural look and when she takes all the steps to ensure the style, it doesn’t turn out the way she had hoped.  It’s when a friend steps in to help without judgement that made for a very touching moment. 

We see Nala vulnerable and embarrassed and her friend rescues her like a super hero, bringing her back to the safety of her room, going even further to help Nala with another hairstyle.  One that she is comfortable with and makes her feel like she’s seen.

One Last Thought on Love is a Revolution

And one of the major accomplishments of the novel is how Watson cements the family bond both in the community and Nala’s own family.  Nala’s relationship with her extended family is incredible. 

Readers will be enveloped in their warmth and support for each other.  Seeing this closeness with an enduring love for each other jumps off the page in ways that readers will root for Nala even with her strained relationship with her mother. 

It doesn’t take away from the closeness we see between the entirety of her family.  Plus the community of people that Nala interacts with at her Grandmother’s apartment complex is also heart-warming and big-hearted.

Love is a Revolution has a brilliantly realized main character and a message that readers will certainly appreciate and enjoy.

Happy Reading  ̴ Cece

RATING: ink blotink blotink blot – Satisfyingly Inked

Author: Renée Watson

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Publication Date: February, 2021

Pages: 400

ISBN-10: 1547600608

ISBN-13: 978-1547600601

Audience: 13 and up

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Need More Book Recommendations?

Sheaf & Ink has reviewed a number of Young Adult novels in contemporary fiction like Love is a Revolution. Read You Should See Me in a Crown and The Voting Booth and With the Fire on High reviews to find your next favorite book and join the conversation. We love hearing from you.

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leigh Johnson

The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

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