Two Book Tuesday

Where I read what may become one of my favorites of the year!

Title: Love is a Revolution
Author: Renee Watson
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: February 2nd, 2021
Ratings: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Goodreads Summary:

From New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Renee 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.

I was a little disappointed with this book. The cover is so fantastic and I’m definitely a big fan of Renee Watson’s other books, but this just didn’t hit as much as I wanted.

Nala expects to spend her summer before her senior year of high school with her cousin-sister-friend Imani, catching up on Netflix and eating ice cream, but that all changes when she meets Tye at one of Imani’s activism group—she falls head over heels. The big problem is that Tye’s whole identity is wrapped up in social justice and local activism, something Nala is just not into, but Tye doesn’t have to know. With a few tiny lies—saying she’s a vegetarian and having a job in community outreach—Nala and Tye spark a relationship. As the summer carries on, Nala and Tye become close, her lies slowly unravel, and her relationship with Imani is in trouble.

I always cringe big time when I read about people lying so blatantly, because I know it won’t end up good and as Nala’s lies unfolded, ending up affecting other parts of her life, it just made me feel so stressed. I really liked Nala as a person. While I definitely didn’t agree with how she acted or went about things, I felt bad that people wouldn’t let her just be herself. So what if she doesn’t know the name of every single black activist in history or liked to listen to rap music, she shouldn’t be judged or shamed for that, especially from someone like her cousin. I thought we were going to see this great relationship of pseudo sisters, but Imani was kind of awful to her. Nala is trying to find her place in the world and with that she makes a few mistakes. She told all those lies to not feel like such an outsider.

I did enjoy Nala’s relationship with her grandmother and their puzzle hang-outs at her assisted living facility. I also really appreciated that the body positivity wasn’t shoved down the reader’s throat, it was rarely ever commented on because Nala was so confident in her body. I wished we learned more about her relationship with her mother and what what exactly went wrong to have Nala move into her cousin’s house. The event is always alluded to but never actually explained.

This was in no way a bad book, I guess I was just expecting more.

ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Title: The Project
Author: Courtney Summers
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: February 2nd, 2021
Ratings: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Summary:

Lo Denham is used to being on her own. After her parents died, Lo’s sister, Bea, joined The Unity Project, leaving Lo in the care of their great aunt. Thanks to its extensive charitable work and community outreach, The Unity Project has won the hearts and minds of most in the Upstate New York region, but Lo knows there’s more to the group than meets the eye. She’s spent the last six years of her life trying—and failing—to prove it.

When a man shows up at the magazine Lo works for claiming The Unity Project killed his son, Lo sees the perfect opportunity to expose the group and reunite with Bea once and for all. When her investigation puts her in the direct path of its leader, Lev Warren and as Lo delves deeper into The Project, the lives of its members it upends everything she thought she knew about her sister, herself, cults, and the world around her—to the point she can no longer tell what’s real or true. Lo never thought she could afford to believe in Lev Warren . . . but now she doesn’t know if she can afford not to.

***Many Trigger Warnings***

At the very core of this story is the tight bond between sisters. All they want is to help each other the best they know how after becoming orphans as teens. Lo is 19, working as an assistant at a magazine, itching to be writing stories of her own. When a man makes his way into her office claiming The Unity Project murdered his son, Lo takes it upon herself to throw herself into investigating the cult that she lost her sister to five years earlier.

Lev Warren preys upon the weak and the vulnerable. Like any other cult, he deliberately finds the people who are in need of guidance and are so lonely that they will take help from anyone. He and The Unity Project wiggles their way into the lives of the people of upstate New York through acts of service and community outreach. What’s the harm in that? However, there is sinister ideals within this group that Lo needs to investigate in order to get to her sister. As Lo infiltrates the group and learns more from their members, The Unity Project starts to completely unravel.

I don’t even know what to say about this book. I finished it a few weeks ago and I can’t stop thinking about it. Where to even start! There are so many levels to this book that don’t really notice until you are close to finishing. It is an extremely complex and layered story that Courtney Summers wrote so expertly. I don’t want to say too much as to give anything away and honestly, It’s hard to put into words how much of a gut punch this book is. Although it is a tough read, I couldn’t stop.

I definitely don’t consider this a YA book, but that’s where it’s being placed. I wonder if Summers planned to write this as an Adult book, how much she could have expanded. I really hope the fact that it’s being marketed as YA doesn’t turn people away from reading it.

I hope this was coherent. You know when you really excited about something and you just can’t put it into words? Yeah, that’s where I’m at.

ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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