Honey & Spice by Bolu Babalola

Honey & Spice by Bolu Babalola

f I could bottle all the nostalgia of all the Black 90s romantic movies, it would be in Honey & Spice. Filled with odes to that golden age, Honey & Spice is a heartwarming love story between an unlikely couple.

Kiki Banjo runs a campus radio show playing the best tunes and empowering women to value themselves when it comes to relationships. Kiki doesn’t do relationships, however, she finds herself in a fake relationship with Malakai Korede, the one she proclaimed as the newest player on campus. Can this fake relationship knock down the walls Kiki has so meticulously built up?

I have read books written by and about Black people living in the UK, but this one gave me an intimate portrait of the different types of culture. The different types of cliques (especially the commentary on the different types of Black women) provided a colorful backdrop for the story. We have all the cultures represented from Ghana and Nigeria to the West Indies.

Seeing Black culture in an environment devoid of the legacy of slavery is interesting. Here in America, Black people had to create culture from the scraps we were given, mixing from memory and adapting for survival. It was really cool reading a book that blends different Black cultures from different places in the diaspora while maintaining their own individuality. This was a new perspective for me.

Even though this is a romance, sisterhood was a big theme throughout the book. Kiki creates a safe space for Black women to open up and be in solidarity with one another through her platform “Brown Sugar”. And while she is a loner herself (except for her best friend and roommate), she cultivates unity among the Black women on campus.

Female friendships are such a powerful driving force in the novel. Kiki has been hurt by relationships in the past, but it is when she lets her guard down to let new people in as friends, she finds the courage to pursue something romantic.

The writing style for this book is amazing. Bolu Babalou writes stunning prose while remaining relatable to younger readers. She is refreshingly modern but classically talented. I really loved just reading (well, listening since this was an audiobook) the words.

I have been looking for more stories that talk about the Black experience on college campuses since I used to work on one. I feel like this demographic gets overlooked because they’re too old to be considered YA, but too young to experience “real adult” problems. I love that this is a love story between two young adults because we get that youthful hopefulness, but they are old enough to have that experience with relationships in the past.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It gave me butterflies the whole time in the very best way. Yeah, sex and smut are great, but have you ever just enjoyed the warmth in your belly from a good flirtationship? This is a good romance.

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