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HONEY & SPICE by Bolu Babalola Kirkus Star


by Bolu Babalola

Pub Date: July 19th, 2022
ISBN: 978-0-06-314148-3
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

A Black British university student explores love and friendship on her radio show in this shining romance debut.

Loner Kikiola “Kiki” Banjo is perfectly content with her Switzerland-esque social status at Whitewell College. Uninterested in making any political or social waves, Kiki dedicates all her energy to “Brown Sugar,” her show on the college radio station. Her college, called “Blackwell” by the school’s Black caucus, is home to a number of cliques and queen bees, but Kiki prefers to stay behind the mic when dealing with any drama between Blackwellian babes and the guys she dubs “Wastemen” (“They waste our time. Waste our energy”). Armed with a sharp tongue and her producer/best friend, Aminah, Kiki hopes the show will land her a spot at New York University’s elite summer pop media program, but she needs a community component to really seal the deal. Enter hot transfer Malakai Korede, a film student and “fresh manna from heaven.” Despite his recent arrival, his more-than-good looks and charisma have already pitted the independent Blackwell women against each other, and even Kiki finds it difficult to withstand his effortless charm. After an impromptu make-out session spurs their unexpected friendship, Kiki and Malakai decide to combine forces and fake date to add to the credibility of “Brown Sugar” and provide audio for his romance documentary. Suddenly, the walls Kiki built around herself come tumbling down as her relationship with Malakai turns them into local celebrities, and she must come to terms with what it means to step out from the recording booth and actually be seen. Babalola’s debut novel is lyrical and sincere, her prose rhythmic: “My smile had had enough of being trapped and spilled out, wide and brazen and messy, dripping everywhere. It soaked through my clothes and into my skin.” Kiki is the epitome of cool; her dialogue oozes with confidence, and her biting wit rolls off her tongue with ease—leaving readers wishing they could play her clever disses on repeat like their favorite song.

Smooth, sophisticated, and sexy.