Outstanding first novel with exceptional characters, action, locale and plot development. Melissa Scrivner Love has a preternatural grasp on and an ability to create effective mis en scene and an advanced skill for believable flowing narrative that keeps the pages turning. "Lola" her featured player is an example of a post feminist utterly "modern" self made woman with an ability to consciously and unremittingly believe in herself and her community while allowing her maternal and creative instincts to shape her actions and world view. With a nehborhood reduced to a policed ghetto and limited resources, she finds her way despite the damage her chosen trade inflicts on her neighbors, relatives and friends, Lola hwr principal player, is reminiscent of Ruth, a similar character in the current Netflix series Ozark who could morph into an intriguing female version of Patricia Highsmith's "Ripley" where Lola remains ever indomitable and unrelenting. This important book from a gifted author rises far above the clichéd ghetto banger tales and delivers an entertaining exciting and enjoyable time with an excellent novel from an accomplished writer.
Lola is a small, slender Chicana in her mid 20's living in SoCal and intimately involved in the drug trade. Her initial entry into the life was through her boyfriend, but Lola is not one to take orders from anyone, especially guys. Not that she doesn't care for the boyfriend or love her brother but she was pimped out by her Mom in trade for drugs too many times to be overly deferential to the 'stronger sex'. Over the years she finds that her intelligence and ruthless drive has more than made her a match for anyone she's come up against (so far). In many ways she is a violent, card carrying sociopath that should be locked up, but her protective maternal instincts for those around her and her sheer chutzpah is the saving grace that helps make her an unusually compelling lead. There is frequent violence but it is handled smoothly and in a matter of fact manner that does not dwell on the carnage but makes the point and moves on. I appreciate this as I am tired of body count blowouts that hide the lack of creativity in too many books. Melissa Scrivner Love, the author, has done a admirable job of world building and it isn't until the last few pages that some of the drug lords' actions violate believability, but by then the momentum carries the reader through to a well done, even touching ending that surprised me with its sensitivity. Often there are passages in the book that go beyond well written and are near poetic in their descriptive power. This is one of the better debuts of the year I look forward to reading the sequel, American Heroin, which I purchased as soon as I finished this 327 page read..
I was so intrigued by this book's review on NPR that I immediately downloaded it to my Kindle. This unusual book is fast moving, often dark and always suspenseful. It gave me a glimpse of women's lives and neighborhood gangs in the barrio that is home to our housekeeper. The power dynamics of an invisible woman operating in a macho world is dramatically told.
Lola has given me very high expectations for anything that Melissa Scrivner Love may write in the future.
I enjoyed the book and was able to forgive some editing errors or some errors in continuity that other reviews noted. The author created characters I grew to care about and thats very basic and important. For me, the book ended and feels like a follow up is in the near future. Being an LA person, I enjoyed the locations and picturing them. On both the Westside and Eastside... Yes, I recommend the book.
My endorsement of LOLA is personal. I did not want this book to end. This means I loved it. I treasured it daily, doling out each page like a rich dessert not to be eaten all at once. My book club will discuss Lola soon. This was an extremely different genre from our normal selections. Looking forward to what our group thinks. A great read!
Story telling at its best. Los Angeles' undercurrents described in insightful and focused language. Lola is an exciting addition to the literary cast of characters of a complex, dark and powerful city.