Love is a Revolution by Renée Watson
Publication Date: February 2, 2021
Nala has always avoided spending time with members of Inspire Harlem, a community service organization that her cousin-sister-friend Imani is involved in, finding them judgmental and not very fun. But when Imani asks Nala to go to one of their events on her birthday, Nala reluctantly agrees. There, she meets Tye, an incredibly cute and passionate activist. Nala finds herself telling a few little white lies to try and impress him, and it works. But as their relationship gains steam, Nala starts to wish that Tye knew and liked the real her.
This highly readable romance incorporates family and friend issues and themes of self-understanding and self-love. With a large font, lots of dialogue, and lists and song lyrics scattered throughout, Love is a Revolution reads quickly. The central issue of Nala having built a relationship on lies adds tension to the romance, and readers will want to keep reading to find out how and when Tye will discover the truth. Nala’s passion for music and her complicated mix of self-confidence and insecurity (especially as a “big boned” black girl who loves her body but is “not down with the Say-It-Loud-I’m-Fat-and-I’m-Proud movement”) will be relatable to many teens. The setting of summer in New York City, specifically Harlem, creates a strong sense of place and time and will be intriguing to readers from other places and familiar to those from NYC.
This book will appeal to teens who have enjoyed books like Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado, Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli & Aisha Saeed, and The Revolution of Birdie Randolph or The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert.
–Laura Indick, Brooklyn, NY
Other Nominated Titles
- Cheer Up! Love and Pompoms by Crystal Fraiser, art by Val Wise, letterer Oscar O. Jupiter (August 10, 2021)
The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the Title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.
Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten. The previous years’ lists are available on The Hub.