Newbery Honoree and Coretta Scott King Author Award winner Renée Watson (Piecing Me Together; Ways to Make Sunshine) tells the warm and hopeful story of 17-year-old Nala Robertson in her third solo YA novel, Love Is a Revolution.
Nala is ready to enjoy summer in her Harlem neighborhood. Her plans include hanging out with friends Sadie and "cousin-sister-friend" Imani (an Inspire Harlem teen activist), getting a new hairstyle ("According to Grandma, hair is a Black girl's crown") and finding romance ("the most important"). When she meets Tye, a charming, Inspire Harlem member and friend of Imani, she's sure her summer dreams are coming true. The more time Nala spends with Tye, though, the more she realizes how little they have in common--Nala is not a vegetarian, not well versed in Black history and nowhere near as woke as Tye. Desperate to be liked, Nala tells a lie. Which snowballs into another. And another. Of course, her untruths are uncovered, and Nala must figure out how to mend the broken relationships with Tye and herself.
Watson's detailed depictions bring to life the bustling streets, overcrowded subways and humidity of a Harlem summer. She also skillfully builds a fun, loving Black teenager who makes some unwise but ultimately understandable decisions. Diversity is a focus in both Nala's city and her life, shown through a variety of body types, skin colors and ways of being. Teen and tween readers questioning their own identities and places in the world should connect with Watson's meaningful social and environmental themes. --Kharissa Kenner, children's librarian, Bank Street School for Children