Hundreds of thousands of readers came to know Luis J. Read more...
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Hundreds of thousands of readers came to know Luis J. Rodriguez through his fearless classic, "Always Running," which chronicled his early life as a young Chicano gang member surviving the dangerous streets of East Los Angeles. The long-awaited follow-up, "It Calls You Back" is the equally harrowing story of Rodriguez starting over, at age eighteen, after leaving gang life--the only life he really knew.
The book opens with Rodriguez's final stint in jail as a teenager and follows his struggle to kick heroin, renounce his former life, and search for meaningful work. He describes with heartbreaking honesty his challenges as a father, and his difficulty leaving his rages and addictions completely behind. Even as he breaks with "la vida loca" and begins to discover success as a writer and an activist, Rodriguez finds that his past--the crimes, the drugs, the things he'd seen and done--has a way of calling him back.
When his oldest son is sent to prison for attempted murder, Rodriguez is forced to confront his shortcomings as a father, and to acknowledge how and why his own history is repeating itself, right before his eyes.
Deeply insightful and beautifully written, "It Calls You Back" is an odyssey through love, addiction, revolutions, and healing.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2011-09-05
- Reviewer: Staff
L.A. author and poet Rodriguez has written extensively on his redemptive turn from gang warfare and jail to self-awareness and community activism (Always Running). Here he deliberates pointedly on that journey accompanied by the safety of reflective hindsight. He fills in the details of his erratic trajectory, played out on the edge of a recklessness and anger fueled by growing up in an impoverished barrio in the San Gabriel Valley of L.A. County, where many Hispanic youth get sucked into a self-perpetuating pursuit of drugs, gang life, repeated arrest, early pregnancy, blunted education, and dead-end jobs. His early life was no exception from this depressing pattern of failure: born to hardworking Mexican immigrants, a member of Las Lomas gang, pumped up on drugs, he served some months in jail in 1973 for assaulting police officers. He yearned for “another way to go,” and managed to get clean in jail and walk away from that life, marry a like-minded young woman (she was only 18), secure a brief career at Bethlehem Steel, and get involved in issues of social justice. Even in his apprenticeship as a “minority” journalist, however, the soreness from old wounds continued to disturb him, especially in the raising of his children from different wives. Rodriguez tells an honest, direct story, though stripped of rawness by years of reworking. (Oct.)