All too often, compassion is taken for weakness with female heroines. It's often what causes their downfall, creating snafus that the other characters must work to resolve. Compassion is not Lola's weakness. It's a part of her character, and one she sometimes has to set aside in order to do her work. Because Lola is not the docile gangbanger girlfriend she pretends to be; she's secretly the leader of the Crenshaw Six, and she's damn good.
What really makes LOLA is...Lola. I loved Lola's character - she's tough, and does incredibly brutal things that strike terror into the hearts of men; she's strong and indomitable; she can compartmentalize, stowing her kind nature away to do business with the gangs; and she's clever. I loved her cunning, and the way she pitted cartel against cartel in order to come out on top and survive. You don't often see cunning female protagonists in fiction, but Lola was that, and a very successful example, at that.
Lola gets into hot water when her gang - specifically her younger brother - screws up a heroin drop. But it turns out that the effort was skewed from the get-go. Someone made off with the drugs way too quickly, and when they finally get hold of the cash, it turns out to be colored paper. What ensues is a tangled plot of rivalries and betrayal, and a ticking clock that ultimately results in Lola's death.
As calculating and cunning as she is, she's also fiercely protective of younger women who are sexually abused by older men. Later on in the book, you meet a little girl named Lucy, whose mother sells her to adults for drug money. Lola bonds with Lucy, and their relationship is an oasis of cuteness in the midst of all this violence.
I think fans of Orange Is the New Black will really like LOLA. The politics and drama are balanced well, and Lola is an awesome heroine who is also a person of color. She's one of the strongest, most complicated, interesting heroines I've encountered in a while, and I can't tell you what a breath of fresh air it was to see one who didn't just talk the talk, but also walked the walk.
Would I read another book by this author? Oh, heck yes. Sign me up right now! And thank you so much to the publisher for handing me this copy for review!
4.5 out of 5 stars!