Ebony LaDelle’s Love Radio is a love letter to Detroit, to young love, and to figuring out how to love yourself.
Prince Jones may only be in high school, but his status as a DJ giving love advice has elevated him to nearly local celebrity levels. Danielle Ford has all but withdrawn from her former social life, deeply intent on securing college scholarships and admission to a university in NYC so she can pursue her dream of becoming an author. The last thing Dani wants is romance, but Prince convinces her to give him three dates. Can the love doctor take his own advice and find his own happily ever after?
This YA rom-com is as full of heart as it is depth. Dani is struggling to overcome an event that happened, the catalyst that caused her to withdraw from her social life and all of her friendships. Prince is the primary caretaker for his mother, a strong woman fighting MS, and his younger brother. Coupled with the friendship and relationship plots, these components provide plenty of depth and heart while there is still lots of humor, romance, and coming of age aspects that are relatable.
Dani and Prince are both alike and different, complimenting each other and challenging on another in unique and unexpected ways. I love to see positive teen relationships portrayed, and Dani and Prince are up there near the top. They each respect the other’s boundaries, are encouraging, and keep one another accountable. They challenge each other’s preconceived notions such that both grow throughout the book due to their interactions with each other.
The importance of prioritizing friendship, whether in hard times, good times, or the beginning of a new and exciting romance, is an important topic that LaDelle expertly portrays. From maintaining healthy friendships to letting go of toxic friends, a wide spectrum of friendship is depicted.
Seeing Danielle with her girlfriends and Prince with his boys also provided insight into the accountability friends can offer. From checking each other for misogyny to breaking stereotypes about teen parenthood, the secondary characters in the friend groups truly show how important building community and being supportive is. Dani pushing away her friends after the party incident that haunts her is isolating, and makes her trauma feel even worse.
The technical aspects that make this novel so wonderful are the incredible character development, the realistic dialogue, and the well-developed sub-plots that tackle so many issues teens are already thinking about. From sexual harassment, toxic friendship, and managing health complications, this novel addresses many issues teens are facing today in a relatable way that isn’t preachy.
We definitely love our mental health representation here, and I especially appreciated both Danielle and Prince’s experiences with their school counselor. Yet another heavy topic expertly handled by LaDelle!
The setting of Detroit is practically a character unto itself, and I loved learning more about the city and seeing it presented in a positive light. The beautiful descriptions and elaborate dates Prince set up definitely made me add it to my list of literary places I’d like to visit.
Love Radio is delightful from beginning to end. The unique passions of each character and their individual growth throughout the novel is wonderful to witness. Love Radio has all the fun rom-com moments, from the totally extra dates to meeting the parents to awkward bathroom moments met with grace and humility. The characters at the heart of this novel are so completely lovable, that you root not only for them individually, but for them as a couple.
While we don’t judge the book by its cover, can we just take a moment to ooh and ahhh over this fantastic cover?! I love seeing actual people on the cover, especially when so often books featuring Black characters don’t feature them on the cover. You can read more about the issue of featuring BIPOC characters on book covers in this wonderful article. I had also hoped to link to a 2020 article from a librarian titled “It Matters if You’re Black or White: The Racism of YA Book Covers,” but sadly it does not seem to be available any longer. Both articles are wonderful and really demonstrate how large of an issue this is.
Thank you to the author, Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing, and NetGalley for an advanced copy such that I could share my honest opinions.
Love Radio is available now. You can purchase it from Bookshop.org here! Bonus– you can save 10% with the discount code BlackLoveSummer. Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Bookshop.org. I will earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you click through and make a purchase.
There is a content warning that contains a mild spoiler below this image.
Content Warning/Trigger Warning:
Danielle is the victim of an attempted rape/sexual assault. Though she escapes, her flashbacks do describe the attempt and her escape.