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Always Running

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  6,531 ratings  ·  764 reviews
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
Paperback, 262 pages
Published October 4th 2005 by Atria Books (first published February 9th 1993)
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Average rating 4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,531 ratings  ·  764 reviews

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Sep 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 05, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction
The glaring contradictions in this memoir make it hard to side with the author. You can only take so many "I was given no opportunities" paragraphs next to ones about voluntary drug use, sex, and violence until it's impossible to believe anything the author says.
Jonathan LaPoma
Mar 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Always Running is an engaging and intelligent look into the socio-political factors that have led to the proliferation of street gangs in the last century in areas where large percentages of citizens have few opportunities but plentiful obstacles, told through the firsthand experiences of former gang member and now activist, Luis Rodriguez, as he grows up as an oppressed minority in the over-policed, but under-protected, gang-haven of East LA. Though his story is fairly common—his parents moved ...more
Growing up in California, and attending schools that were often 50% or more hispanic, I was really interested in this book. I was hoping that it would expose to me the culture, and reasons, behind gangs. To some extent, the book achieved this.

However, I was so put off by the book, that I stopped halfway through. The author offers lots of short narratives of events that happened in his life, but they are not strung together into a cohesive story. I felt it jarring to try to place the event in the
Dec 16, 2010 added it
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
Apr 28, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
Being in education, I'm always curious about banned books and books with lots of buzz. Here in California, Always Running is kept behind the checkout desk at my local library because it is one of the most stolen books, so I wanted to check it out. Interesting enough but not "steal-worthy". I can see how his story would appeal to teens, although I don't think they should read it (thus the ban and theft issue I guess). Everyone needs a place to fit in and belong.
Nik Melo
Oct 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
I think it was a really good book. It never got out of the story it was very concentrated on Luis( The main Character).
David Alexander
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was a good book that portrayed the streets of LA. I really related to what the author talked about even though he recollected events that are years past my time. Growing up in LA county my entire life, and being half Mexican, is what made me really relate to the authors memoir.
Apr 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009
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 throughline and n
Theresa Alan
Jul 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
What’s crazy about this book is that so much of this was eerily similar to events that happened much more recently: What happened in Baltimore and Ferguson, to name just two. Unfortunately, stories of police brutality disproportionately being inflicted on people with brown and black skin hasn’t changed much since what Luis Rodriguez experienced in his youth.

One thing I didn’t like about this book was that he jumped around time-wise for reasons that weren’t clear to me. He’d talk about stuff tha
Patrick O'Neil
Jul 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Gangs, LA, vato locos - Luis Rodriguez got heart, and he wrote this in what? 1993. So yeah. It rolls a bit dated but what he's ultimately saying is a message that never gets old. Yet it's Rodriguez's use of language that really makes this book sign. Rodriguez is a poet. His prose is so beautiful you forget you're reading the gritty imagery of ganbanging in the barrio. When he flows, every little detail is examined and presented and the syntax of his expression is something to behold.
May 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Honestly, I was incredibly turned-off by this book. Luis, Louis, Louie, Chin, whatever your name is, had a very interesting and moving life, but could have recalled it in a much better way that would have fascinated readers more. I preferred the narratives, the small stories of his life and wished they were strung together more cohesively. I guess a really account of someone’s life is so much more tumultuous than how historical fiction can read. It took me way to long to finish this and I only d ...more
Shazi L
Jul 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Immersive storytelling, insightful read.

This is not an easy topic to read about, and certainly not to live through, but Always Running presents such a unique perspective and was truly worth the read. I really felt present in the words and the sense of community. It felt like such an honest look at the failings of society and personal failings. This feels like important cultural content.
Apr 21, 2017 is currently reading it
I'm really truly enjoying this book because the speaker reminds me of Chicanos that popped in and out of my life. The speaker helps me understand the way a chicano who struggles, migrates, and survives "La Vida Loca". But this is not the way it always has to be, always running. I'm looking forward to keep updated with this book.
Toni Palazzolo
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The characterization and motives of the protagonist were well explained. There were times I felt the writing was more colloquial and details were more unnecessary than I wanted, but then Rodriguez’s writing would become florid and poetic. Because the characters are sometimes more important than the plot-telling in my eyes, it deserves 5 stars. I will be reading the sequel!
May 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
Nope! I try so hard, but I didn't like this book. The way the author tell is story isn't captivating for the reader at all, the way he tells it makes some parts or elements in it really hard to believe. And overall it was just a hard young life drug/thug story we've already seen. I'm not discrediting what the author has gone through at all, but for a reader, there isn't much to learn from here.
B.B. Powers
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have read this book years ago and actually started it again for inspiration and motivation for my new novel I am working on. In short, this book is a must read especially for anyone from the LA culture.
Jocelyn Andrade
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I found myself to really enjoy this book. It was not only powerful but painful to read as well. This book revolves around gang life and highlights the experience of the author Luis Rodriguez living in LA as a Chicano. It portrayed the streets of LA and the oppressive cycle of racism that is seen against people of color. At age 13, Rodriguez was already involved with drugs, gangs, and sexual activities. He lived alone in a garage after his mother kicked him out. The author tells his life-story in ...more
Dec 03, 2017 added it
I read Always Running by Luis J. Rodriguez. I liked the book because i can relate to it in some ways. Its just another perspective from a kid that lives in Los Angeles. Another reason i enjoyed this book is because it shows the difficult things people have to go through. Shows how Latinos live in the ghetto.
Jul 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
This year, Luis J. Rodríguez is Los Angeles' poet laureate. He has been visiting many of our local LAPL branches to speak and teach, and this week he will be visiting the library that I am spending the summer at! So of course, I had to read his most famous work, Always Running, so as not to be ill-informed.. what if nobody at his talk had actually read the book (unlikely as it is taught in many schools)? Year ago, when I was in grad school, I took a YA lit class and read My Bloody Life: The Maki ...more
Annmarie Sheahan
Aug 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
This memoir should be required reading in high schools. Though published in 1993, the brutal experiences of the L.A. barrio life Rodriguez delineates feel fresh and vital to explore in a country currently plagued by anti-immigration rhetoric and violence. I appreciated Rodriguez's beautiful passages detailing the power revolutionary literacy and art had on L.A.'s Chicana/o community, but I also appreciated his honesty in pointing out that literacy and art are not always enough to save Chicana/o ...more
Dec 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 l
Steffanie Castaneda
Dec 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 reveals Rodrigue
Dec 04, 2014 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book more than I actually did. I appreciated ("enjoyed" doesn't seem like an appropriate word) the realism of the story. Rodriguez pulls no punches in the accounting of the details of his life, presenting some of the darker scenes with the same honesty and straightforward writing that he gives to any scene in the book. He is generous toward the positive influences in his life, such as his mentors in the latter half of the book.

I had two issues with it, however. The writing
Dec 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 09, 2016 rated it liked it
I chose ALWAYS RUNNING because it grasped my attention when i first saw the cover . I watch the television show GANGLAND every Thursday night and i noticed the tattoos the man had on the cover was related to the same ones that I saw on TV . I could tell the book involved gangs , drugs , and a lot of violence . I knew i could be interested into the book because it is the society that I live in.

a family from mexico comes to america looking for a better life aka the american dream. they hear stori
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
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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 years he joined a gang, lived on t ...more

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