La Vida Loca: Gang Days in LA
by Luis J. Rodriguez
Growing up poor in LA, the author of this memoir spent many years in gangs searching for security and empowerment. But what he found was a never-ending scene of violence: drug use, rape and murder are common events in the pages of Always Running. Eventually realizing that staying in gangs would probably cost him his life (having seen many friends and family members die), Rodriguez escaped via his education. Years later, he was dismayed to find his own son becoming involved in gangs, and wrote this book in the hopes of deterring him by showing what he had gone through. Although it gives an inside look at gang life, and explains to me some of the reasons why kids join gangs, I really feel like this book failed in many points. Its main method of getting the message across is relating countless shocking incidents, with an array of flashy characters. But the reader never gets any depth- and thus I came away ultimately dissatisfied, feeling slightly ill from reading about many things I would rather not have known in such explicit detail. And I was sad to discover that despite the book's publication, his son still ended up involved in gangs, and in jail.
Rating: 2/5 ........ 262 pages, 1993