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A Spy in the Struggle

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  807 ratings  ·  230 reviews
Since childhood, Yolanda Vance has forged her desire to escape poverty into a laser-like focus that took her through prep school and Harvard Law. So when her prestigious New York law firm is raided by the FBI, Yolanda turns in her corrupt bosses to save her career—and goes to work for the Bureau. Soon she's sent undercover at Red, Black, and Green—an African-American “extr ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published December 29th 2020 by Kensington Books
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Average rating 3.55  · 
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What I liked about the book -
I liked how Aya de Leon incorporated Yolanda's back story and showed how she got to be the person she was as a woman and as a lawyer. This gave us insight into why she would later make the decisions that she did.

I liked the social/ecological justice angle with Red, Black and GREEN! Although the Flint water crisis has gained much press, most of these instances are underreported and go unnoticed by the nation at large. Most novels that depict corporate takeovers of l
Ms. Woc Reader
Dec 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: black-lead, latinx
Yolanda Vance takes a job with the FBI after she refuses to shred some compromising paperwork and the law firm she works for gets indicted. While newly working for the FBI, Yolanda is sent to infiltrate Red, Black, and Green! (RBG), a political organization in Holloway, California for Black and environmental justice. A major corporation has been exploiting the community however the FBI insists this group is the real problem. As she gets further involved she starts to see that the world isn't qui ...more
A new to me author, Aya de Leon, has written a delightful story of a tightly wound, young, African American woman, Yolanda Vance. She has worked her entire life to be the best she can be when suddenly, as a brand new attorney at a prestigious New York law firm, she is embroiled in the middle of a raid by the FBI. Yolanda quickly turns whistleblower and ends up working for the FBI. She only wants to be an attorney, but she has to learn all things FBI, including how to shoot a gun. She soon is sen ...more
Nov 20, 2020 rated it liked it
I liked some of the book and then it went downhill for me. All of the spy stuff in the book was great. The emails and all of the mystery. The book just was so bad when the romance was the focus. It just detracted from the book and it made me annoyed. I do not think it needs to be in the book. This could have been a 5 star read, but it just did not meet this criteria because of the romance and how the book ended. I did love. the Black characters and would read more from this author because I do l ...more
Nov 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
A new to me author, Aya deLeon, has written a delightful story of a tightly wound, young, African American woman, Yolanda Vance. She has worked her entire life to be the best she can be when suddenly, as a brand new attorney at a prestigious New York law firm, she is embroiled in the middle of a raid by the FBI. Yolanda quickly turns whistleblower and ends up working for the FBI. She only wants to be an attorney, but she has to learn all things FBI, including how to shoot a gun. She soon is sent ...more
Jan 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
Overall this book was really well done and kept my interest. There were a few points I felt the story lagged a little but the exciting bits were more than enough to keep me going. I really loved that it was a spy novel but also a contemporary look at racial tensions and racism that occurs every day. I loved the main character who kept getting dealt a poor hand and I loved that we also got glimpses into her past. Yolanda Vance is an overachiever and after graduating Harvard Law she gets picked up ...more
Apr 05, 2021 marked it as dnf
Shelves: library
This is a DNF at 115 pages. I'm disappointed. The main character is racist. Spouting views and opinions that sound like white stereotypes such as: 1) Black people need to stop complaining, work harder and they can get out of poverty or a bad situation and 2) Generalizing a low income community as riddled with drug addicts and thieves. There was one other one, but I don't recall what it was because its been a while since I last read the book. I kept reading because I wanted to see if the characte ...more
Jamie Canaves
Remember on Friday when I said I was looking forward to reading this over the weekend? Well, I ended up reading the first half in one sitting Friday night—until that pesky thing of needing sleep happened—and finishing it Saturday morning, hence why I’m starting my raving about a December book in August. It’s very good and worth the pre-buy and letting your library know you want them to have it.

Aya de León never fails to create excellent characters while bringing communities, and their different
Lorel Holt
I was really looking forward to this book. It had a really interesting concept a woman’s law firm is raiding by the FBI and she turns in her corrupt bosses. Then she finds herself a job in the FBI and goes undercover to spy on an African American “extremist” activist group. Only to find that the FBI might not be telling the full truth. Yolanda Vance is our main character she is a lawyer who went to Harvard Law and has never been an undercover agent before. She has a great story arc in this, it’s ...more
Sharon :)
Jul 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Loved this action packed title big bonus it was narrated by the author and it was so well done!!!!
Dec 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
When the law firm Yolanda works at attempts to make her complicit in covering up their fraudulence, she decides instead to become a whistleblower and take a job with the FBI. Although she wants to be an attorney, she is sent to California to act as a spy on a Black "extremist" group that is actually trying to help the local marginalized community suffering from unemployment and pollution side effects from a nearby corporation. This experience ultimately pushes Yolanda to confront her blinded vie ...more
Jan 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
A compelling stand-alone suspense / domestic espionage story about a heroine who learns it's really hard to go home again. After turning whistleblower when the SEC raids her corporate law firm, she takes her law degree to the FBI - who soon farm her out to infiltrate a environmental/BLM group in her former college town that's making too much noise for the local biotech firm with a juicy government contract. But once she's back in northern California, there's a lot that isn't adding up - includin ...more
Tanya Patrice
Sep 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook
Probably 3.5 but I'm rounding it up because after this book I'd love to read more from the author. Interesting plot about a whistleblower turned FBI agent, who's sent back to her old neighbourhood because a black militant group of teenagers has been causing some trouble with a big biotech corp ... but all might not be what it seems. Being a rookie agent, not only is she still figuring her job out, but she still has a lot of baggage and trauma from her past that bleeds into her life and relations ...more
Feb 16, 2021 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Barbara Tsipouras
I'm not an American, I'm not black and I don't belong to any kind of minority where I live - but I've always had a heart for minorities. As far as I can tell, this novel by Aya de Léon gives great insight into a community I don't know much about.
The most interesting part of this novel was the character development, how insight will change your mind. The love story was a nice bonus, but the main focus was on Yolanda's inner struggle between her ambitions as a lawyer, now FBI agent undercover, and
Oct 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was such a nice read. The romance is secondary to the themes of social justice but I knew that that's how Aya de León writes. Here the plot was more contained than in other books. The characters were interesting and the chemistry was fantastic once the book shifted toward the romance. I do wish that the main character was not quite so judgmental. It is part of her story arc but it was hard to hear her internalized self hatred and anti-Blackness.

I received an ARC on Netgally. All opinions ar
Shannon (That's So Poe)
Feb 01, 2022 marked it as 2022-dnf-nfn
DNF (Did Not Finish) @ 7%

So, I totally missed the whole "spy" part in the title when I decided to pick up this book... *face palm*. I had heard it was a really cool romance that had social justice and completely tuned out the part about it also being kind of an espionage thriller type book, which just isn't my thing! The social justice themes were VERY good in the beginning of the book, though, so if you like spy stuff and social justice, give it a try!
Jul 19, 2021 rated it liked it
This one was readable most of the time, but the writing felt amateurish occasionally. There seemed to be a lot of unnecessary detail and I could have done without the graphic sex. It seemed there were some holes in the plot too. Just ok.
Nov 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook, 2021
Shelf This! Book Club pick Nov. 2021. Can't wait to discuss this one! I've already said this 100 times but if you are interested in When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole, this is very comparable. Aya de Leon narrates the audiobook herself! ...more
Jan 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
First time reading this author and it was enjoyable! I was not expecting it to reference current events, such as Covid, blm etc. Imagine she wrote this fast!
Holley Perry
“My situation was unique . . . being an African-American woman working undercover is exceptionally stressful . . . When I wasn’t on assignment . . . I would stay in bed, isolated and along, for days. ” – From Clean Dirt: A Memoir of Johnnie Mae Gibson, FBI Special Agent
Aya de Leon’s A Spy in the Struggle is not the typical spy novel but I’m here for it. Who says James Bond is the only spy that matters? We’ve heard his story already so let’s hear about the Johnnie Mae Gibsons and Yolanda Vances o
Jenna Freedman
Nov 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
All of Aya de León's books are five star reads to me. I love her style of Black feminist political romance. The "spy" is Yolanda Vance, a rookie FBI attorney, who didn't sign up to be a field agent, but was tapped for a surveillance gig because of her race and age. The targeted activist group is Red, Black, and GREEN (RBG), a Bay Area youth-oriented environmental nonprofit--obvious terrorists duping teens into Black identity militancy.

I say that ironically, but bootstrapping high academic and a
Honey Bee
Apr 21, 2022 rated it really liked it
I spent most of the book not liking the MC. Because of this and the book was slow I almost DNF. However I hung in there and I did enjoy the book. The storyline was pretty believable and very relevant in today's world. I love the topic of environmental issues in the black community. This is a subject that isn't discussed enough.

I listened to the audiobook which was narrated by the author. Some parts of the book seemed all over the place. The past about the MC past seemed random. They did eventua
ahaana ☎️ (semi-hiatus)
Thanks to BookishFirst for giving me a chance to read an EXCERPT of this book!!

This book had me drawn from the first sentence!! Just the way everything was illustrated, and how relatable, and likeable the main character was, made this book wonderful. I've never read any books by Aya De Leon before, so I didn't know what to expect in her writing style or voice, but 'A Spy in the Struggle' did NOT disappoint! If given the chance to read the complete book, I think it would be on my favourites of 2
Mar 04, 2021 rated it liked it
A fast-paced, light read. I enjoyed this title overall. I think it'd be a great vacation read!

I love having a read with Black and brown characters doing things and driving the action (and the white folks are in supporting roles!)

The twists and turns were fun; a bit clumsy at times, but surprising. Yolanda changing her mind and opinions about the FBI and RBG seemed somehow clunky.

I also thought the background sections were excessive and unnecessary. Her father, her mother, the hot Latino cop, et
Popsugar Reading Challenge 2021 - A book about a social justice issue

I tried to like Yolanda, but I really couldn't. I liked Jimmy even less, if that's even possible.
Robert Justice
May 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
If you enjoyed this book then you'll love my interview with Aya on the Crime Writers of Color podcast!

Check it out here:

Feb 09, 2021 rated it liked it
I honestly found this book a little puzzling. The concept was unique and I like how it touched on real issues and was topical (there is even a Covid reference) but the main character was so flat. Her thinking was very black and white and childlike. It was very difficult to believe she was an adult woman. I finally had decided that the book must have been aimed at high school aged kids or younger (there is a storyline with student activists and the entire plot of the book is presented in a very s ...more
Jan 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
Since childhood Yolanda Vance has forged her desire to escape poverty into a laser-like focus that took her through prep school and Harvard Law. When her prestigious New York law firm is raided by the FBI, Yoland turns on her corrupt bosses to save her career. Her determination has taken her to a new position at the FBI, where she is sent undercover to infiltrate Red, Black, and Green, a Black activist group in her California college town that has been dubbed “extremist”. Yolanda is determined t ...more
Ryan Mishap
Mar 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-crime
Once past the rapid-fire time jumps at the beginning, this settles into a very good story about a woman whose point of view comes to change as she engages with an activist community in the Bay Area. As the current events unfold, we get glimpses back at her life and how she came to have the beliefs she has--this allows the reader to understand where she is literally coming from and how others might share her views. And what a big deal it is to have her worldview challenged, shattered, and then pu ...more
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Bookish First Rea...: A Spy in the Struggle by Aya de León 2 18 Nov 23, 2020 07:57AM  

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