February 12, 1993 at 05:00 AM EST

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

Current Status
In Season
We gave it an A

Like a Latino Boyz N the Hood, poet Luis J. Rodriguez’s memoir, Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A., delivers an intimate view of teens trapped in the L.A. gang wars. ”If they murder, the victims are usually the ones who look like them, the ones closest to who they are — the mirror reflections. They murder and they’re killing themselves, over and over.” Every spiky anecdote from a life of guns, razors, uppers, downers, glue, heroin, sex, and early death supports this former gang member’s view of the violence as collective suicide. That Rodriguez’s memoir takes place in the ’60s and ’70s, a generation before the ’92 L.A. riots, only makes this beautifully written and politically astute account more compelling. A

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