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An empowering Harlem-set story of summer love in all its forms
February 2021 Book of the Month
Renée Watson is one of my favourite contemporary YA writers and her latest novel, Love is a Revolution, embodies everything that makes her stories shine - it’s honest, relatable, driven by an inspiring Black girl, and sparkles with a self-empowerment vibe.
Nala’s summer plans are sent reeling when she goes to an open mic night for her “cousin-sister-friend” Imani’s birthday, an event organised by the Harlem Inspire community project Imani is heavily involved with. Here Nala fall head-over-heels for committed activist Tye and finds herself telling little white lies to impress him - that she’s vegan, that she’s running a big project at her Jamaican Grandma’s Senior Living residence.
Talking of Grandma, I especially loved the book’s beautiful portrayal of inter-generational relationships - the shared wisdom, the compassion and kindness, the sense of family and community, and Nala’s body positive exuberance is uplifting too. Her disorientation and self-doubt derive from elsewhere, like not knowing what she wants to do with her life, and feeling she’s not good enough, not quite worthy of Tye’s love. Though fireworks explode when Nala’s fibs are found out, after taking Grandma’s advice on-board to the empowering soundtrack of her favourite musician, she discovers that self-love and self-care are forms of revolution - they’re her route to transformative self-acceptance through embracing who she really is.
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.
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.
One of the most radical things a Black girl can do is know that she is both worthy of love and deserving of joy. In Love Is a Revolution, Watson takes us on Nala's journey to claim her right to decide who she wants to be in a world that so often tries to fit Black girls into metaphorical boxes. It is deftly crafted, big-hearted, beautiful, funny, honest, and inspiring. - Nicola Yoon
Reading a Renee Watson novel is like having an intimate conversation with a friend (or, in this case, a cousin-sister-friend). Love Is a Revolution is a powerful look at a young Black girl's journey to self-acceptance in all facets of her life, and a beautiful example of how communities become family. - Brandy Colbert, award-winning author of The Voting Booth
Renee Watson writes timeless fiction; Love Is A Revolution is more evidence of that indisputable fact. Nala's voice speaks to the heart's gentlest desires, and her journey is not just one readers will recognize, but one they've likely lived, or are currently living. Either way, Watson is a deft navigator who never loses her way. - Lamar Giles, author of Not So Pure and Simple
A fantastic book that shows self-love is just as important as love for another. Nala's family is delightfully unconventional but no less loving. Watson has not only created a relatable and inspiring protagonist, but a whole community of wonderful characters with something to unique to say. - Muhammed Khan, author of I Am Thunder
A warm, engaging story that feels steeped in authenticity. It depicts the ups and downs of friendships, family and the sweet flushes of first love. Yet, above all, Love is a Revolution shows the importance of truly settling into your own identity. Nala's journey is fun, relatable and wonderfully empowering. - Sareeta Domingo
Praise for Watch Us Rise;
This stunning book is the story I've been waiting for my whole life; where girls rise up to claim their space with joy and power. I resolve to give a copy to every teenager I know! - Laurie Halse Anderson
An extraordinary story of two indomitable spirits, the power of friendship, and what leadership looks like in the hands of young people today, Watch Us Rise is the novel we all need right now. - Brendan Kiely
Timely, thought-provoking, and powerful. Watch Us Rise is an immediate young adult classic. - Julie Murphy
Watch Us Rise is a source of inspiration on every page and a remarkable story of the power of young people to make a difference. And it's a great read. - Caroline Kennedy
Read this today. Give it to the young person in your life. It is an instruction manual to freedom and love and voice. It is a triumphant example of how literary arts and poetry intersect in our everyday lives and fortify the marrow of our survival. - Mahogany L. Browne, author of Black Girl Magic
A highly needed work for the #MeToo movement. . . . Watson and Hagan do not disappoint in this powerful story of two girls who take a stand against injustice while learning how to navigate a world that seeks to silence them. - SLJ, starred review
A manifesto for budding feminists . . . An inspiring look at two strong-willed teens growing into even stronger young women ready to use their voices and take on the world - Kirkus Reviews, starred review
This intersectional, layered novel . . . covers a wide breadth of topics--institutionalized racism, how we undermine young women, feminism in the modern age--with a clear message: Girls are going to come out on top. - Marie Claire
Praise for Piecing Me Together;
Timely and timeless, Piecing Me Together is a book about the ways young people deal with the hardships and heartbreak of everyday living while remaining whole and true to themselves. - Jacqueline Woodson, National Book Award-winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming
Watson, with rhythm and style, somehow gets at the toxicity of sympathy, the unquenchable thirst of fear, and the life-changing power of voice and opportunity, all wrapped up in Jade - Jason Reynolds
An important and deeply moving novel. Highly recommended. - John Green
An honest look at how girls stitch together their talents to find their voice and power. Renee Watson is a top-rate storyteller about what impacts young women today. - Meg Medina
Teeming with compassion and insight, Watson's story trumpets the power of artistic expression to re-envision and change the world. - Publishers Weekly
A timely, nuanced, and unforgettable story about the power of art, community, and friendship. - Kirkus Reviews
This unique and thought-provoking title offers a nuanced meditation on race, privilege, and intersectionality. - SLJ, starred review
A thoughtful testament to the value of growth and of work, of speaking up and of listening, that will resonate with many readers engaged in 'discovering what we are really capable of.' - BCCB, starred review
|Publication date:||4th February 2021|
|Publisher:||Bloomsbury YA an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC|
|Suitable for:||13+ readers, YA readers|
|Genres:||Family / Home Stories, Personal Social Health Economic , Body / Health, Romance / Relationship Stories|
|Recommendations:||Books of the Month|
RENEE WATSON is the acclaimed author of the teen novel, This Side of Home, and two picture books: Harlem's Little Blackbird and A Place Where Hurricanes Happen, which was featured on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. Her middle grade novel, What Momma Left Me debuted as an ABA New Voices Pick. She lives in New York City. Follow her on Instagram Photo credit: Shawnte SimsMore About Renee Watson
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