BOOK REVIEW: Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A.


Author: Luis J. Rodriguez
ISBN-13: 9780743276917
Publisher: Touchstone
Publication date: 9/6/2005
Pages: 288
Source: I received a free copy of this book as compensation for review from Simon and Schuster Publishing, Touchstone Books

The award-winning and bestselling classic memoir about a young Chicano gang member surviving the dangerous streets of East Los Angeles, now featuring a new introduction by the author. Winner of the Carl Sandburg Literary Award, hailed as a New York Times notable book, and read by hundreds of thousands, Always Running is the searing true story of one man’s life in a Chicano gang—and his heroic struggle to free himself from its grip. By age twelve, Luis Rodriguez was a veteran of East Los Angeles gang warfare. Lured by a seemingly invincible gang culture, he witnessed countless shootings, beatings, and arrests and then watched with increasing fear as gang life claimed friends and family members. Before long, Rodriguez saw a way out of the barrio through education and the power of words and successfully broke free from years of violence and desperation. Achieving success as an award-winning poet, he was sure the streets would haunt him no more—until his young son joined a gang. Rodriguez fought for his child by telling his own story in Always Running, a vivid memoir that explores the motivations of gang life and cautions against the death and destruction that inevitably claim its participants. At times heartbreakingly sad and brutal, Always Running is ultimately an uplifting true story, filled with hope, insight, and a hard-earned lesson for the next generation.

I read this book a few years ago, and just recently was inspired to read it again. Having grown up during the time of intensified gang violence in Los Angeles County, I knew exactly what Rodriguez was writing about and I was able to relate to such. This memoir follows the life of Luis Rodriguez growing up in the malicious streets of Los Angeles, CA and in scarceness. He depicts a life that one living in those days could not escape due to the lack of education and financial turmoil. The book takes you from his younger years to what lead him to become a ruthless active gang member in the streets of Los Angeles, CA. This book is also filled with a lot of history concerning the Chicano and Latino communities in the early days and the struggles that this community faced. But in all of this Rodriguez is also able to relate to us the change that would gradually occur in his life through self-education and worth. What I thoroughly enjoyed about this book was the fact that Rodriguez was real in his writing style and yet genuinely poetic when describing many scenes throughout his life. This is a must read for anyone interested in the early days of the Chicano movement, Los Angeles gangs and a life that saw hope at the end of the tunnel.

Purchase this book (HERE)

image credit: HERE

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