Love Radio by Ebony LaDelle is a young adult contemporary romance set in Detroit, following Danielle and Prince’s story. Prince has a part time gig as a DJ at a local radio station, where he gives love advice under the name DJ LoveJones. Danielle is Prince’s long time crush, a high school senior with aspirations to become a writer. In the beginning of the story, she is struggling with intense writer’s block caused by unprocessed feelings from a past event.
Prince and Danielle’s love story begins at the library, where Prince ran into Danielle. They got off on the wrong foot when she assumed he had a child as he was picking up books for his younger brother. She ended up going to apologize to him with more children’s books in tow for his younger brother, and he decides to finally ask her out. She reluctantly says yes after Prince insists that an outing might help her with her writer’s block.
As the story progresses, Danielle allows herself to be a bit more vulnerable with Prince as he’s been opening up to her. You can tell he’s head over heels for her, while she is confused with her feelings. They both end up pushing each other in the right direction, where Prince supports her dreams to go to school in New York and become a writer. Danielle insists Prince dream bigger about his future in radio and the music industry – which by the end of the book, he does. Given Prince’s affinity for music, there are a lot of bits and pieces about Black music and artists weaved into the story; especially around Motown Records and its significance to the Black community. Additionally, Danielle’s mom loves Black romance and watches a lot of romance movies, giving Danielle another positive portrayal of Black love outside of her parents’ marriage.
Common Themes + Opinions:
Early on in the story, we know Danielle went through a traumatic event that caused her to close herself off from her friends and all aspects of her social life. Based on the clues Danielle recants, we can guess what happened before she eventually reveals that she got assaulted by a college aged guy. Danielle trusted her friend, Destiny, when she agreed to accompany her to this party. What Destiny did not disclose is that she had been physically open with the group of guys present at the party. The “party” was a group of college guys and just Destiny and Danielle – take that how you will.
Danielle unfortunately gets assaulted and she’s traumatized. For people who experience sexual assault, this is a monumental event that causes a lot of shame, fear, disgust, and blame on the person assaulted – from everyone and from themselves. As a result, she withdrew and fell into a funk, unable to deal with the trauma and judgement from anyone if they knew what happened.
This is such a heavy topic that I felt was dealt with such care in the book. As you can imagine, it’s not easy even reading about someone getting assaulted, even more when it’s a teenager. Through getting to know Prince, she realizes that she needs to come to terms with the event in her own way to begin healing, and eventually tells her parents and seeks help. Danielle exhibits a lot of strength in doing so with the strong support system of her family and friends, and still choosing to seek help all on her own – an important message to portray to younger readers.
On Prince’s side, he’s dealing with his mom who suffers from MS and is a single mom raising him and his younger brother Mook. Prince grapples with taking on the role of the man of the house; ensuring his mom is taken care of and taken to doctor’s appointments, caring for Mook and exhibiting a father figure role Mook hasn’t experienced, working at the radio station on his show, spending time with friends, all while trying to go to school and date Danielle simultaneously. The kid has a lot on his plate! But not once did he complain throughout. It’s clear that everything he did for his loved ones was out of love, despite the anger he felt at his father for walking out or the sadness he felt about his mom’s illness.
Final Thoughts + Ratings:
Love Radio was a really cute read. Initially when I picked this up, I wasn’t expecting it to be a young adult romance novel but was pleasantly surprised by it. I don’t typically read young adult novels but I’m glad I read this one. Despite being in a much younger realm than I’m used to, Danielle and Prince’s story dealt with some heavy, adult themes that some youths can identify with. It was a little bit coming of age, seeing as how it was their senior year and it was time for them to step into the “real” world.
Another reason I picked this book up was because I was excited to read another portrayal of Black love. I love reading stories where the main characters are people of color who get to have positive experiences, and pick them up whenever I get the chance. Overall, I give this one 5 stars because it was an adorable read, despite the heavy themes in the story. And because this is a young adult novel, there weren’t any sex scenes involved.
Have you read Love Radio? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!