lola by melissa love book coverReviewed by Carrie Ardoin

Lola by Melissa Scrivner Love took a little while to get me interested, but once I got into it, I was under Lola’s spell just like the rest of her crew. The Crenshaw Six is a small time gang in Los Angeles that is being led by 26 year old Lola Vasquez. To the outside world and her neighborhood, Lola is just a tiny woman, loyal to her man Garcia, who everyone believes is the actual leader of the gang. But behind closed doors, Lola leads with a fierceness and commanding quiet that comes from years of having to raise herself and her little brother in the barrio.

As the chapters rolled on, I relished learning more about the complex woman that is Lola. She needs to be tough because of her position, but she’s often even shocked at herself and the things she does. She is never afraid to say what’s on her mind, and she never lets a man believe he holds any power over her. She is in a relationship, yes, but it’s more out of convenience than love. Make no mistake, Lola is out for number one.

I absolutely loved how the author made her characters come to life. She’s gifted at describing how people react in situations, and certain nuances that really make you envision how that person is. You also feel what Lola is feeling. You won’t cry, because she doesn’t and can’t, but you will see what moves her heart and you will be moved as well.

The one caveat I had was wondering how much of this book might truly happen, and how much is just kind of a big stereotype about Hispanic gangbangers. The author herself is not Hispanic or from that neighborhood (though she does say she’s lived in LA), so I found myself asking how much she actually knew about what she was writing. Readers who are from the area or more experienced with this type of background might be more inclined to agree with me.

The plot does seem to get overly complicated by rival drug lords, who’s cheating whom, who’s really in charge, and what not. But where the book really shines is when Lola is just by herself. Her men don’t really matter in the ultimate scheme of things. Lola is a character I won’t soon forget.

Carrie runs the blog Sweet Southern Home, and is a stay at home wife and mom to one little boy. When she’s not reading, she’s usually watching Netflix with her husband, playing outside with her son, or baking. Her family would describe her as sometimes annoyingly sarcastic, but mostly lovable. 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Crown. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.