BOOK REVIEW | FICTION
“La Toya Hankins’ Sophomore Novel Explores the Bonds of Sisterhood”
By Claudia Moss October 26, 2016
K-Rho: The Sweet Taste of Sisterhood
By La Toya Hankins
236 pp. Resolute Publishing
La Toya Hankins dedicates her heartwarming, sophomore novel “to her Sisters of the Dove and other members of sororities who support each other and don’t let different life choices stand in the way of true sisterhood.” But, in my heart, she also bestows it to me and every woman who has ever been blessed to know the bonds of true friendship with another woman or women.
It’s Monday night, and Kiara Michaels awaits the start of her interview with the ladies of Kappa Alpha Rho Sorority, Incorporated. Before the meeting, she meets Gloria Allen and Donna Edwards. As the attractive young trio begins bonding, little do the sophomores know that they are slated for far more than a K-Rho line process. They are signing up for an unforgettable lifetime of sisterly bonding, unconditional love and support, friendship beyond the hallowed halls of Copper Road University and the experience of swimming with swans through the highs and lows of their lives.
I love so many aspects of Hankins’ riveting read. A Northerner transplanted to the South as a tenth-grader, I know and love the Southern milieu of fictional Blueburg, North Carolina, although I finished coming of age in Tuskegee, Alabama. Copper Road University, the setting in the opening of the novel, echoes, for me, what it was to walk the campus of Tuskegee Institute. Hankins’ title is delicious, soliciting a warm smile within every time I think of it. At my grandmother’s table, I savored soft, butter-smeared, golden biscuits, which my sibling and I devoured with cane, Alaga or K-Rho syrup, the latter a sweet treat that lingered on the tongue and palate, like La Toya’s novel. Although I never pledged a sorority while attending Tuskegee University, I was ever fascinated by the sisterhood the girls of various Greek organizations shared, and, to my delight, reading this novel invited me into a thoughtfully crafted, beautifully imagined fictional world of what many of my college friends experienced.
The characters are fully developed, so much so until I found it difficult to bid them good-bye for even the shortest time. Kiara Michaels, a legacy, her mother a lifetime sorority member, is studious, organized, no-nonsense, alluring and a member of the track team. Usually straightforward in most things, she harbors a secret that stifles her relationship with the other girls. Gloria, a brainy, peace-loving, gazelle-looking cutie, is a Political Science and Spanish major, whose hilarious references to movies in practically every conversation is endearing. And Donna, a Business and Psychology major, is the sharp-tongued sister who possesses a penchant for dishing hysterical tongue lashings to anyone who warrants them.
Hankins is a master at writing dialogue. Her lines ring true with the rhythms of campus speech. Her writing style flows, her pace perfect, the story line complete with ample twists and substantial turns. Unafraid to tackle hard issues, this author captures a violent rape scene, as Kiara, while pregnant, is violently beaten and raped by two young men in an empty club parking lot. Hankins balances the hard with the soft, when Donna and her college sweetheart Peter, a cheating hunk, learn to loving co-parent their two daughters, after their marriage ends in divorce.
Simply, this book works. There is more than enough drama to keep the reader turning pages or sliding a finger across an e-reader’s lit face. Effortlessly, it reveals the following truths: that secrets engender disappointment; lesbians can head organizations as efficiently as their straight sisters; without balance, people chance losing indispensable parts of themselves; with love and care, you can return from trauma; and sometimes, the person you’re looking for may be right under your nose.
Outside of a few comma omissions, which in no way detracts from the superb storytelling, this book is error free. Since I relished Hankins’ premier novel, SBF Seeking…, I anticipated the reading of K-Rho: The Sweet Taste of Sisterhood would leave me intrigued, laughing aloud and charmed with the author’s inimitable style. Not only do I highly recommend this novel, but also I am eager to read La Toya Hankins’ latest works, Challah and Callaloo (Love Wins series) and Heat Wave: Southport (Heat Wave series). Both novellas can be found on Smashwords.
K-Rho: The Sweet Taste of Sisterhood can be purchased on Amazon.com.