Set over the long summer holidays before Nala’s final year at High School, Love is a Revolution is a coming-of-age story with depth and resonance. Nala’s friends are inspiring community activists, who quote civil rights heroes and believe they can be the change they want to see in the world. All their clothes have slogans across the chest, and they never, ever buy single-use water bottles. Although Nala doesn’t disagree with their politics and message, she finds the group pretty judgmental at times (censoring the music she likes and making her feel bad about taking long showers), but mostly she resents how her friends are now part of a group she doesn’t fit into, and have got a different ‘we’ to her. So when she spots a super-attractive new guy at an Open Mic event she was dragged to, how ‘right on’ is Nala going to pretend to be to get him to like her?
There’s actually a lot going on in this deceptively simple book, and a lot that I really love about it. For instance, I love how Nala’s weight and body shape are described, but this isn’t really a major factor in the story. It’s a story about friendship and family relationships in all their messiness, and how our personal lives get mixed up in the wider political narratives unfolding around us, and all of these themes are properly explored, without slipping into lazy clichés. It’s up to you, the reader – this could either be a fun, romantic Summer read, or the gateway to deep discussions, and whichever path you choose I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
(review by Tim)