Lola Vasquez is a stone-cold killer. She leads the Crenshaw Six, a street gang in South Central L.A. She deals heroin which is taking a terrible toll on her neighborhood and on the country as a whole. Her brother is serving time in prison for a murder that Lola committed, and by almost any definition, she's a terrible excuse for a human being. And yet, in a very perverse sort of way, you can't help rooting for her, or at least I couldn't.
Lola is also the mother of a young daughter, and she's trying desperately to make a better life for her than the one that Lola endured as the child of an addicted mother who pimped her out for drugs. Lola came up the hard way, and is living life the only way that she knows how. It's impossible to know who to trust, and in Lola's world, alliances may shift in a heartbeat. But when a rival gang attempts to move in on her territory, Lola is forced to lead her gang to war in a conflict that will have grave consequences for herself, for her gang, and most especially for her family.
It's refreshing to see a book like this with a kick-ass female protagonist who is also a leader of men. The story speeds along at a rocket's pace but at the same time it also provokes the reader to slow down and to think very carefully about Lola and her story and about the moral implications of it all.
I'm sorry to say that I came to this book not knowing that it was the second in a series until it was too late, and so I'm sure I missed a lot about the character's development that would have helped a lot in reading this one. In particular, I'm curious about how Lola came to lead the Crenshaw Six. I would have assumed that a group of tough, macho, male street gang members would have never accepted a woman as a leader, and I'd love to know how that came about. I'll be looking eagerly now for Lola, the first book in the series. In the meantime, I really loved this book and, in many ways, I really admired Lola too, in spite of her obvious flaws.