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

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  3,470 ratings  ·  435 reviews
Luis J. Rodríguez’s stunning memoir—a brave, unflinching account of life in a Los Angeles street gang

Luis J. Rodríguez joined his first gang at age eleven. As a teenager, he witnessed the rise of some of the most notorious cliques and sets in Southern California and knew only a life of violence—one that revolved around drugs, gang wars, and police brutality. But unlike mos...more
ebook, 262 pages
Published June 12th 2012 by Open Road Media (first published 1993)
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Matt Eckel
I found out about this book during my time working at Garfield. There were a lot of books in the classroom libraries about gang life, books of poetry by Tupac Shakur, stuff the students prefered as it had to do with, "you know, real life." Which was, in a way, bullshit. I mean, a few of them, maybe could relate to that, and the ones that could were sorry of the fact and didn't flaunt it. One kid I remember, his older brother had been killed in a gang-related shooting. He wasn't a particularly go...more
Luis Rodriguez speaks out of a virtually unheard experience: a young Chicano man who survived "la vida loca" gang culture in South San Gabriel. Rodriguez' writing is raw and brutally honest, but with a lyricism that will stop readers in their tracks. He gives voice to an unheard cry, and illuminates the heartbreaking cycle of poverty and violence that perpetuates gang wars. He neither simplifies the problem, nor admits defeat. His passion for reconciliation and true empowerment of minority commu...more
This book is about a young boy named Luis Rodrigues known as the author. It talks about Gang days back in the old days of Los Angeles. This book is based on his real life, some people dont realize how life is because they havent gone through or havent seen anything. Life in Colorado isnt the same as in the south or in other places. its very difficult to live in a time the way Luis did and other people as well. People dont understand that some people stay homeless...more
I found this to be a powerful and painful read. It's not easy reading about the gang experience. It's harder still when you know it could have been your story if circumstances had been different. I knew it was bad in LA, but I had no idea how hard it was just to survive.

I'm Mexican-American and 4 years older than the author. There was a time in my life that I wouldn't admit to being Mexican-American because of the attitudes towards us. Some of those attitudes are reported in this book and that m...more
The book always running is about a man, by the name of Luis J. Rodriguez and the struggles he had in his gang days of L.A. After his move from Mexico to America he faces many choices that sometimes may even lead to his death, or the death of other people. In America he also starts to deal with racism. He faces many struggles having to do with cops and the things they were doing wrong to him just because he was Mexican. As he grows however, and starts to get more involved in school, he revolves...more
This book is on the ALA's list of 100 most frequently banned books of 1990 through 2000.

This is a memoir of gang life & of growing up poor and Chicano in East LA in the '60's & 70's. It's also about learning who you are and finding ways out - through writing, through painting, & through social activism.

Rodriguez is primarily a poet and writer of short stories & it shows in this collection of snap shots of moments from his past. For those wanting a standard tale with a classical t...more
Yazmin Pliego
Always running is a book written by Luis J. Rodriguez telling his story of a young veteran gang of East L.A. who survived all the danger surrounding him. He experience incredible gang culture, he witnessed shootings, beatings, and arrests. He watched fear as drugs, murder, suicide, and acts of street crimes of friends and family members. Luis Rodriguez is the main character of this book who comes from poor family. He thought that getting involved with gangs was one of the ways he can protect him...more
Mar 13, 2008 Chris rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the kids I teach
This is a very vivid, literary memoir about growing up into the gang life in Chicano Los Angeles. It was recommended to me by a student who had read it in juvie, and I can see why he liked it. I think this book, for gang members still in their teens, probably could have a real affect on their lives. I found it to be plain good literature, and it made me think about some of the things that I have always thought about with gangs. For one thing, when I was younger, we always had a group of friends...more
Imagine growing up during the 60's/70's in the gang days of L.A, constantly getting harassed by police, rival gangs and living with the temptations of drugs and money. This is how the author/poet Luis Rodriguez grew up, and in order to convince his son, Ramiro, not to get involved with this life, he wrote "Always Running"-A collection of memories from his life that can inspire any person of any culture. Rodriguez’s use of imagery and sensory detail perfectly depict the temptations of “La vida lo...more
Who said that Gangsters didn’t have a intellectual side to them?... Well Luis Rodriquez proves that anyone can write. Rodriguez exposes his gangster “Vida loca”,in his Memoir Always Running.

In this memoir he tells a multiple series of stories from when he was born to the time his family ended up migrating in Los Angeles California. He speaks openly about his family struggle in poverty. He explains the meaning of gang nicknames. He exposes, gang life in a way not yet seen.

Luis explains how liv...more
Steffanie Castaneda
To some people, getting involved in a gang is necessary to feel safe & a part of a family. A great example is Luis J. Rodriguez, a man who joined a gang since violence & racism forced him to become a member for his life’s sake.

In the memoir Always Running, Luis J. Rodriguez reveals his gang life & all the struggles being part of a gang he faced in East L.A. He started as a member of the “Animal Tribe” & later became a “Lomas Loco” as a shield from his “Vida Loca.” Always Running...more
Ardea Smith
Title / Author / Publication Date: Always Running/Luis J. Rodriguez/2005

Genre: Non-Fiction

Format: Paperback

Plot summary: This book deals with a lot of heavy issues but like A Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos, the violence in not added for a gratuitous punch. The stories Luis Rodriguez tells are meant to serve as cautionary tales of becoming involved in gangs and ultimately, how removing yourself from dangerous situations and risky lifestyles can be rewarding.

In Always Running, Luis Rodriguez bega...more
This book is about a man named Luis J. Rodriguez who was introduced to the ganglife when he was twelve years old and now his son is getting involved in to the ganglife. luis doesn't want his son to go through that because he went through the gangs and he fought to stay away from the street to get a good education and to become a poet.

Always Running reminds me of a book that i read it was called My Bloody Life it was about a little boy who also turned to the ganglife because he t...more
This book is about a teen named Luis he is smart, caring and sometimes makes bad decision he is part of 2 neiborhoods, he is part of Las Lomas their fighting with Las Sangras their enemies. its a bad neighborhood and bad education, the cops are unfair and raisect. he smokes and drinks and his always partyng. he knows he has a bad future a head of him and trys to get a good education just that some teachears are mostly racist. but he gets expelled from school he looks for ohter schools but doesen...more
Before reading, I noticed that all but one review was positive and described this book as some combination of raw, emotional, and shocking. The other review described this book as being poorly written- there was an interesting life to explain, but it wasn't done well. Unfortunately, that was how I felt. I probably would have enjoyed this in high school, but now I know what can be done with a memoir. This didn't grab me and sometime the writing was done in such a way that it felt more like a news...more
I would normally not gravitate towards a book about LA gang life, but I decided to give this book a try after several reluctant readers waved about the work. Many high school students will identify with Rodriguez's experiences. He tells his story in an honest & thoughtful manner without blowing the horrific details of his life out of proportion. However, his account isn't for the faint of heart due to violent & sexually explicit accounts included this biography.
I REALLY liked this book. I think Luis Rodriguez is a good writer. It really made me see a Chicano's perspective growing up thru the history and development of Mexican gang life in LA. I even made a low rider oldies mix cd after I read this book reminiscent of my junior high days, haha...I took this book to the juvenile hall that I worked at and the cholitos enjoyed it as well. It's cool to read books by people who grew up in LA and write about it.
Carolina Zapotitla
Always Running is a great book. It is very detailed. It keeps the reader interested. The book may be relatable to some readers and keeps them interested. To people who don't relate to it, it makes them think. The book has many good features for example it is descriptive, has an interesting plot, interesting characters, and it has moments that are really sad and others that make you smile. This book was well written and enjoyable.
Who knew? The guy who wrote Zoot Suit went to the same high school I attended. But what a different place it was, years earlier and on the other side of the racial divide. Back when "ESL" meant having your grammar school teacher tell you to go play with blocks while she taught the class. Passionate, well written, and an amazing story of escape from the gangster life, leaving the System behind and finding a successful writing career.
I first came across this book in ninth grade - a teacher had recommended it tot he entire class, but it wasn’t required reading. I didn’t read it until my third year in college because my friend recommended it to me. This book is a compelling memoir of growing up in San Gabriel, California in the 70’s and the 80’s surrounded by gang violence. Rodriguez was from a family of Mexican immigrants that moved to the U.S. when he was in elementary school. After being the young victim of racism and bully...more
I have mixed feelings about this autobiography. On the one hand, it's really great to get an inside perspective on the gang culture of East LA -- motivations, thoughts, feelings, and a first-hand account of some well-known historical events. I really enjoyed that the author offers suggestions on how to eradicate gang violence and makes it very clear to his intended audience, including his own son, that joining a gang is ultimately more harm than it is a help. On the other hand, I was quite bothe...more
Luis Rodriguez's memoir recalling his experience as a member of an East L.A. gang who eventually finds liberation and life is a powerful, engrossing coming-of-age story. Written as a kind of cautionary testimony to his son Ramiro, Rodriguez's story illuminates the raw violence and desperate camaraderie of gang culture as it attempts to create a sense of family, of loyalty and protection against an unjust social system. Rodriguez's struggle to fight for peace, to unite rival gangs, and eventually...more

How far would you go in order to survive? “Always Running” by Luis j. Rodriguez is a self biography about a young Mexican-American boy, who has to face the strength of a society in which he doesn't belong. This was revealing to me, since it shows the true side of society, and how you must be how everyone wants you to be. Many of us might say that we are “independent”, or “self secure”. However, when your life and reputation is in risk, how long are you willing to stand for your values? This is t...more
A beautiful, haunting book that offers a glimpse into racial and socioeconomic disparities in the US. Although the events of this book take place in the late 60s and early 70s, the lessons are as true today as ever.

"Gangs are not alien powers. They begin as unstructured groupings, our children, who desire the same as any young person. Respect. A sense of belonging. Protection. The same thing that the YMCA, Little League or the Boys Scouts want. It wasn't any more than I wanted as a child. Gangs...more
"The Spanish had been beaten out of me in the early years of school -- and I didn't learn English very well either.

This was the predicament of many Chicanos."
- p 219

I was born and raised in the San Gabriel valley, not too far from South San Gabriel or Las Lomas. Although I can talk a lot about the Chicano experience in Southern California, I've always had a blind spot when it comes to gang life. Thankfully, my immediate and extended family was unaffected. We grew up in the suburbs and had lots o...more
This book wasn't terribly written, in fact I quite enjoyed Luis J. Rodriguez's unique writing style, but I found the book nearly impossible to understand. The first thirty pages or so were fine, but then all of a sudden everyone was speaking Spanish and I had absolutely no clue what was happening. If you studied Spanish in high school and/or are fluent in the language, I really do recommend this book. However, if you are like me, someone whose knowledge of Spanish is limited to the word 'hola,'...more
Chris Steeden
I found the book to be somewhat dis-jointed and did not flow so well. Maybe this is too do with the way it is written with snippets of stories. It certainly gives a no-holds-barred look at gangs in the late 60's and early 70's and the need for these young women and men to have something to aspire to rather than joining a gang. Jobs, community support events etc and the author has certainly been a good citizen in that regard after his time in the Las Lomas gang.

What I do not understand is the mes...more
This book was written by a man telling his story of a young veteran gang of East L.A. who survived all the dangerous experiences that surrounded him. He experience a big gang culture, which he witnessed some fights, shoot outs, torturing, and killing. He was paranoid and always on the lookout of his family and friends to stay away from drugs, initiations, and kidnappings. Luis Rodriguez is the main character of this book who comes from poor family. He thought that getting involved with gangs was...more
Always Running tells the story of Luis, a young teenager living in the ghetto, killing people and making money but also feeling he won't live long himself. The book is set in L.A during the 60's and 70's.
Wanting nothing more than to earn respect from his crew and friends, he gets into drugs, violence, and various crimes but also has lots of fun doing it. It isn't all fun though because losses a lot of friends in the making and has problems with his family. He does everything to gain respect fr...more
Evanston Public  Library
We’ve seen the headlines, “Gang Violence: Teen Wars Bring Death To Two,” and “Youth, 17, Murdered: Victim Shot In Chest.” Non-fiction ALWAYS RUNNING by best-selling author Luis J. Rodriguez is a first-hand account of what leads up to gang violence and what proceeds. This former gangbanger even gives a shocking eye-witness description of the drugging and raping of young girls somewhere between 12 and 14 years old. Isolated as early as kindergarten, a teenage Rodriguez showed potential as a gifted...more
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Luis J. Rodríguez (b. 1954) is a poet, journalist, memoirist, and author of children’s books, short stories, and novels. His documentation of urban and Mexican immigrant life has made him one of the most prominent Chicano literary voices in the United States. Born in El Paso, Texas, to Mexican immigrant parents, Rodríguez grew up in Los Angeles, where in his teen yearshe joined a gang, lived on th...more
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