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Lola by Melissa Scrivner Love
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When you find yourself 'sort of' rooting for a protagonist who is not only a female gang member, but also someone who has no problem killing and maiming (including relatives), you have to assume the author did a pretty good writing job. 50 pages into 'Lola', I was prepared to ditch the book and its unrelentingly grim story. I hung in, though, drawn by a good plot and a highly flawed lead character with a lot of challenges. Melissa Scrivner Love's first novel is a tough crime story that's not for everyone, but it'll reward those who can hang in there and handle the plot and characters.

Lola is the 'behind the scenes' leader of a small gang of thugs in an LA barrio. Her group, which is aligned with a Mexican cartel, is assigned the task of ripping off their competitor's big drug buy. Things don't go well and they return with neither the drugs nor the buy money, so Lola spends the rest of the plot trying to continue to draw breath while various bad folks take turns at playing her and her team against one another.

The writing in Lola contains a sort of a modified street vernacular, with lots of social, racial, and socioeconomic asides. Although nearly all of the characters are criminals, you get a sense of the despair and lack of opportunity (much of which is caused by family and personal issues) that drove them to their situations. I think that was at least part of what the writer was trying to get across to us, and she succeeded pretty well.

Lola is a good enough to get you hooked and interested in learning whether the main character (Lola) will survive and, if so, how in the world she'll manage to do so with so many 'challenges' in her way. ( )
  gmmartz | Jun 20, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Right now, all things cartel are hot properties. Urban fiction is coming up because it gives voice to the cartel experience. And along came Lola. Set in Los Angeles, it details the rise of the Crenshaw Six, a small time gang of drug dealers with peripheral ties to the cartels.

In a twist to conventional cartel books, and reflecting the stories of real life queenpins, Lola is the first lady to the current gang leader. She was the first lady to the last leader of the Crenshaw Six, who was killed in a previous battle.

She and her partner live in a crappy little house that is the center of activity. Lola has spent a lot of time on the sidelines. She is observationally astute – she not only watches the gangs and how they do business, she watches all the players. She knows who can help, who can hurt and who controls what corners and she is ambitious enough to want to learn more.

In addition to the above, she is also attempting to divert her brother from becoming part of the game. She understands better than most that he is not equipped with enough guts or brains to get the job done. They both grew up in a neighborhood house with their mother, a heroin addict.
Lola helps set up a rip off and then spends the rest of the book dealing with the repercussions, opportunities and possibilities that arise from the events that follow. What sets Lola apart from other books in this genre is that a great deal of time is spent exploring Lola’s inner life and thoughts in her own words.

She is able to reflect on how she grew up, what she learned from all her relationships (familial and romantic) and how these lessons apply to herself, her brother, fellow gang members and even other men and women in the neighborhood.

One thing that creates a lot of tension in this book is that along the way, Lola rescues a neighborhood child who is being systematically abused. This means that Lola is in a bind because as a queenpin, the child becomes a liability due to her need to be protected and as a vulnerability for Lola that can be exploited.

This is a great book because it looks at a world that is written about largely from a male perspective in most books and turns the female mind and psyche to what goes into the decision to enter this kind of life, from a women’s perspective.

It is a new book from a first time author and there were a couple of times in the book where an explanation went a little long but I loved the fresh perspective to a genre that is trendy right now and with a growing list of stories that have similar story lines.

Give this one your attention for a look at the world in which a woman becomes a queenpin. Stay for the great story and it felt open ended so maybe we will see more of Lola as she climbs the ladder to drug lord. ( )
  ozzie65 | Jun 20, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book is a story of a Latino women in South Central Los Angeles defending her turf from other drug gangs. It is well written and has good character development. This did not garner a 5-star rating due to some glaring errors one of which is patient confidently in a hospital setting. Hospitals do not give out information on any patients, but in this story - everything about a patient is doled out over the phone. Nada - not going to happen in the era of HIPPA.
I was also taken aback by the brutality - but I suppose it comes with the territory - drug wars.
All in all though, it was a good read. Would make a good movie. ( )
  jeanie1 | Jun 18, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Lola by Melissa Scrivner Love is a thriller set in Los Angeles and paints a vivid picture of life for a gang lead by a woman. This woman is Lola. The life of drugs, money, gangs, and violence is illustrated brilliantly by the author. I couldn't put it down and I rooted for Lola even in her ruthlessness and less than legal ways. All in all, I want to see Lola again in another book.
  jeshakespeare | Jun 16, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Wow. This is unlike any book that I have ever read and I loved it. I haven't read any books about gangs in LA. The writing is powerful and the descriptions of the neighborhood are so vivid that I felt like I was there. I loved Lola's struggle with her inner consciousness and her ability to lead. ( )
  amazzuca26 | Jun 16, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451496108, Hardcover)

An astonishing debut crime thriller about an unforgettable woman who combines the genius and ferocity of Lisbeth Salander with the ruthless ambition of Walter White

The Crenshaw Six are a small but up-and-coming gang in South Central LA who have recently been drawn into an escalating war between rival drug cartels. To outsiders, the Crenshaw Six appear to be led by a man named Garcia . . . but what no one has figured out is that the gang's real leader (and secret weapon) is Garcia's girlfriend, a brilliant young woman named Lola. Lola has mastered playing the role of submissive girlfriend, and in the man's world she inhabits she is consistently underestimated. But in truth she is much, much smarter--and in many ways tougher and more ruthless--than any of the men around her, and as the gang is increasingly sucked into a world of high-stakes betrayal and brutal violence, her skills and leadership become their only hope of survival.      

Lola marks the debut of a hugely exciting new thriller writer, and of a singular, magnificent character unlike anyone else in fiction.

(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 06 Sep 2016 22:35:32 -0400)

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