Love is a Revolution by Renée Watson
Book Review by Elizabeth
Love is a Revolution by Renée Watson caught my eye instantly on the library shelf. I’ve always been drawn to books depicting teenage characters for I find them most relatable, and this one was no different. This novel pulls you into a realistic world, is generally slow-paced which makes it easy to follow, and gets you invested into the lives of the characters you could easily slip into the shoes of.
We start in early July, a time of liberty and excitement for all the adventures to endure during the seemingly everlasting summer ahead. Nala finds the simple pleasures of trying on new hairstyles, listening to her favourite music, spending time with her friends and family, and hopefully finding love – all she needs to do to achieve the summer of her dreams. Unfortunately, all of her friends, as well as her cousin who she’s very close with, have taken part in their local volunteer group, Inspire Harlem, leaving Nala feeling like an outsider around them at times. Lucky for her, at the Inspire Harlem talent show, which she was reluctant to go to, Nala spots the most perfect guy she ever laid eyes on. Coincidentally, Tye Brown was also interested enough in her to engage with Nala after the show, which Nala unknowingly isn’t ready for. To hopefully make herself seem more attractive, intriguing, or at least “as woke”, Nala falls into a barrel of lies to glamorize herself for Tye – well half-truths at least.
Along with keeping up her activist charade, Nala has been running into problems with Imani, who has been by her side since forever, but more of her sister and roommate since Nala ran away from her mom’s place. Somehow, Imani has been more distant, more sparse at family gatherings, and would seemingly rather spend time with her friends without Nala. Now, Nala doesn’t know whether she could get the guy, and even if she did if she could sustain her façade, because surely he couldn’t love her for who she really was, or whether she could figure out why her cousin-sister-friend needs to step away from her when all she wants to do is to bring the both of them closer.
Aside from the dilemmas, I still would enjoy this book just as much. The author’s descriptions of Harlem and New York, the feeling of summer and new love are truly something else, binding you into the motion of their world only to have it unsatisfyingly disrupted by your annoying little brother barreling into your room. Nala makes a lot of lists throughout the book, making it even easier to understand everything that’s going on all at once. The pictures painted in your mind are very vivid and intriguing, a forever page-turner. I would definitely recommend this book to someone like me who isn’t into big adventures and wild fantasy. It’s very comforting, real, and enveloping, just how I like it.