Monday, April 10, 2017


Title:  Lola
Author:  Melissa Scrivner Love
Publication Information:  Crown. 2017. 336 pages.
ISBN:  0451496108 / 978-0451496102

Book Source:  I received this book through the Penguin First to Read program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "Lola stands across the craggy square of backyard she shares with Garcia."

Favorite Quote:  "Today is for deceit, the calming salve one spreads over wounds not to make them go away, but to forget they are there."

I picked this book to read with a great deal of hesitation. I looked at it on different lists and different venues offering galleys and walked about. My concern was that this would not be the book for me. The world of the gangs of south central Los Angeles is a violent and brutal one. I was concerned that a story set in that world would be too violent for me. Yet, something about the description kept pulling me back to this book.

The idea of a female gang leader in a world still completely male dominated is intriguing. The idea of a book based on such a female character is intriguing. "Lola spent the first twenty-three years of her life, until she met Garcia, figuring out how to make sure men didn't feel threatened by her. It is a skill that has served her better than any chocolate cake recipe every will." So, my curiosity won out over my concern, and I was fortunate enough to get an advance copy the read. The world of gangs and drug cartels is out of my comfort zone, but I am glad I did read this book.

First, the little stuff. The logic and facts of this book could use some research and editing. Certain medical details and certain inconsistencies in descriptions can easily be corrected. However, in light of the character and story, I look past the details. A little annoying, easily fixable, but ultimately able to be ignored, at least for me.

Now to the story and the characters themselves. The book both is and is not what I expected.

The world described is violent and brutal. This is not a book for the faint of heart. Prostitution, drugs, murder, bribery, beatings, violence against women, racial tensions, corruption, and child abuse are all a part of this book. How could they not be? These are the unfortunate realities of this world, and this at times make this a very uncomfortable book to read.

What is more unexpected is the character of Lola. She is most definitely not the damsel in distress. She is more the knight in shining armor. Different, sometimes conflicting sides of her character are explored. On the one hand, she is the unstated leader of the Crenshaw Six, a rag tag gang looking to break into the big leagues of the drug zones of Los Angeles. As such, she has a cool, rational mind and a ruthless nature. She makes tough choices, including punishing her own as a means of establishing and maintaining her credibility.

On the other hand, we see a compassionate woman with love in her heart. The compassion shows both for those she calls her own and those whose lives touch hers in some way. Her conflicted feelings towards her mother, the balance between being her brother's protector and his boss, her relationship with Garcia, and her pure love for Lucy all help round out the other side of this gang leader.

Ultimately, this is book about a strong woman in extreme circumstances who manages not just to survive but thrive and carve a life out for herself in a man's world. Considering this is Melissa Love's debut novel, I look forward to her next character. Lola certainly leaves and impression!

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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