Book Reviews

Love Is a Revolution by Renée Watson: ARC Book Review

This is a spoiler-free review.

Love Is a Revolution by Renée Watson

Expected publication February 2nd, 2021 by Bloomsbury YA.

My rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

From New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Rene Watson comes a new YA–a love story about not only a romantic relationship but how a girl finds herself and falls in love with who she really is.

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.

Thank you to the publisher, Bloomsbury YA, and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC of this book. All thoughts are my own.

I really appreciated how Love is a Revolution is a YA novel written for a YA audience. Nowadays YA encompasses such a broad range of maturity levels. So, sometimes I’ll read a YA book and it’ll include some seriously adult-like problems/contexts, and have wonder if I would actually recommend it to a young teen to read.

You can tell Watson wrote this story with a teen audience in mind. Meaning that it may not be the most mature, nuanced book, but nor does it boast to be. The characters in Love is a Revolution feel real, are realistically flawed, and read like actual teenagers. This is the sort of book I would highly recommend to young teens, as I can easily believe they’d feel themselves represented in its pages. Its main message: to love yourself and be true to yourself, is one I think a lot of teens could benefit from hearing repeatedly.

I loved the representation in this book. Nala is Black, plus-sized, and proud, and I loved that. When she said, “People always think the only thing big girls cry about is our weight. I’m perfectly fine with my body,” it really resonated with me. I also enjoyed that Watson took the time to show a non-traditional mother-daughter relationship in this story.

What didn’t work for me was the consistent girl-on-girl hate, the judgemental attitude coming from the main character, and the constant lying. It just felt over the top, immature, and unnecessary. I get that the intention was for the reader to see Nala grow over time – and don’t get me wrong, I usually love a flawed character – but it just felt like too much of this story focused on her hating on other girls and pretending to be someone she was not, that the revelation at the end felt a little rushed and incomplete.

I also didn’t love the romance. It felt like Tye was trying to change who Nala was, and then with Nala lying about herself on top of that – it just didn’t work for me. I’m glad at the end Nala figured out the importance of loving herself. I just wish she could have done so a little sooner.

Have read any YA romances recently?

What did you think of them?

Let me know!

Liza is a twenty-something book blogger who spends way too much time with her nose in books and feels way too much. She loves cooking, baking, reality tv show watching and, of course, reading. She can be found most often with a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other. Her blog, Literary Liza, features bookish content like reviews, recommendations, and author interviews.

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