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It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  290 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
Growing up on the streets of East L.A., Luis Rodriguez narrowly escaped a serious jail term and then struggled to overcome his powerful addiction to heroin and alcohol. Eventually, Rodriguez embarked on a career as a successful journalist and a highly regarded poet. In It Calls You Back, Rodriguez describes with heartbreaking honesty his challenges as a husband and a fathe ...more
Playaway, w/earbuds
Published October 15th 2011 by Dreamscape Media/Playaway (first published October 4th 2011)
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Aug 27, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't do it. I read half of this and put it down for good, and I will probably never return to give Mr. Rodriguez a third try. I read Always Running, because it's one of those books that you should read if you care about youth, and violence, and what is going on in the city, all things I care about profoundly, and all things I was in the midst of until relatively recently. His writing craft is OK, I don't think it's exemplary or unique, but he can produce a reasonably gripping narrative. My ...more
Jun 04, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

It Calls You Back is a self indulgent memoir that rambles through sexual encounters and personal discovery, interspersed with insufficient descriptions of important union work and journalism. All of this is topped off by the author's obvious realization that he has neglected his son, who has become the kind of thug that Rodriguez' work sought to rehabilitate. This fact is sadly ironic, especially with every accolade mentioned and each name dropped. I've heard Always Running is good, but I doubt
Lauren Zelaya
Nov 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very honest and some parts are more difficult than others to read, and the second half is definitely richer than the first. Rodríguez tells a lot about negotiating his identity as a Latino born and living in the US but visiting Mexico and Central America--always feeling like somewhat of an outsider-- and later finding his roots as a part native person, finding that spirituality, and learning how to be a father which helps him stay clean. He is very honest and admits his faults throughout. His re ...more
Jan 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the book "It Calls You Back", by Luis Rodriguez. The author talks about his life as a young gang member in Los Angeles. His experiences on the streets his involvement in gangs, his drug use and the violence he participated in and witnessed. The main conflict of in the story is Luis’ trying to escape what he calls: "La Vida Loca", the crazy life of a gang-member. The reader sees him develop into an educated person and getting off drugs. The driving question in the book is will Luis be able to ...more
James Thompson
Dec 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was preety good. it didn't really fit my humanitarian topic well but i ended up finding other things that were important to me in the book.
if i had to choose a book all over again this one would be top 3 for sure. it was a great read and gave great insight into what life in the streets is really like instead of the watered down version we see in the media. it portrayed the hardships of everyday life and showed me some of the difficulties i might face as an adult. over all one of my top 5 favo
Oct 31, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
This book is one of a man's struggle to get out of the life of gangs, drugs, addictions and the difficulties with relationships he had as a result.

The family dynamics was important in this book as well and showed the pain of finding out your father is not the man you thought he was. Multiple relationships with women (and marriages) come in to play as well and why they didn't work very well.

How does one man move from the gangs on the streets of L.A. to prison to a life of becoming an author? Thi
Jan 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another good book by Luis Rodriguez. More detailed in nature than I would have expected after reading the first autobiography. I found this book to be insightful, full of information, inspiring, and intriguing. Rodriguez discusses his own life and struggles; from his gang life to his educational life, is parenting life and different relationships, as well as, his addictions to his sobriety. He discusses how his own choices effect those around him and how he had to use that knowledge to help his ...more
Very interesting book about a former gang member and his life after he left the gang. There is a previous book about his earlier life before, during and shortly after leaving the gang. I listened to this on audio and it does seem a bit too long, but there was a lot of things that needed to be covered. Occasionally, things seemed to be discussed out of order and this often confused me for a bit. I'm very glad they used a Hispanic narrator, since it added to the authenticity.
Arnoldo Garcia
Snap Review
It Calls You Back: An Odyssey through Love, Addiction, Revolutions and Healing by Luis J. Rodriguez. A Touchstone Book published by Simon & Schuster, October 2011.

Luis J. Rodgriguez memoir it Calls You Back is exceptional story telling. Few books, far too few, are published telling the ordinary stories of the working class, survivors of the underclass, the underdogs, who too often prey on each other. Following his initial memoir "Always Running," about his youth as a gang member i
Amanda Byrne
Feb 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me some time to finish this, but that's not the fault of the author. Picking up, in a manner of speaking, where his previous memoir (Always Running: La Vida Loca Gang Life in LA) left off, Rodriguez struggles to adjust to life without his homeboys, being a good father and husband, turning to alcohol to fill the absence of drugs in his life, all the while trying to find a job and keep writing. Eventually he succeeds, becoming a journalist, traveling to Central America to see first hand th ...more
Jul 28, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Experiencing, much less moving beyond a gang and drug / alcohol filled existence is something most of us thankfully will never experience. Something most of us would never be able to live through. Luis did, not as a saint, but as a human being with faults, doubts, setbacks and mistakes, but yet still striving towards a better self. This being said, I found myself skipping a lot of passages in this work that added nothing to the depth of the story / struggle other than a listing of "whose who" wi ...more
Feb 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was in the discard section of my puiblc library. When I saw who the author was I immediateluy picked it up.

I had no idea Luis Rodriguez wrote a continuation to Always Running. As with that one, this was an amazing read that I found hard to put down. It's different because now we get to see Louie grown and living life as an adult out of the gang scene. Being from Chicago, I enjoyed reading about his time spent here and referencing not only my neighborhood but many amazing organizations
Jan 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, latino-latina
This was so great. Rodriguez's life as an activist and father and recovering gangster/alcoholic and poet. I liked it so much better than La Vida Loca because he is mature and talks about the women in his life with respect and acknowledgement of his part in the problems he had with his wives. It's sad to see his own life reflected in that of his son, but it's also very heartening to read how he supported his son as best he could and tried to fix his mistakes. I could not put the book down and rea ...more
Christopher Bowman
la vida loca was one of my favorite books growing up but the stories from this book gave me appreciation for my native American culture. Much of the book discusses Latinos overcoming drugs alcohol addiction poverty violence and police brutality to just name a few; through social involvement community leadership and spiritual practices that focus on returning to cultural practices that that are being lost to modern day social norms. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand m ...more
Jun 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
In his acclaimed non-fiction work Always running, Luis Rodriguez chronicled his experiences in San Gabriel Valley/LA County gangs.
The story continues with Rodriguez's being released from jail. Rodriguez vows to change his life for the better. However, inner demons plague him through his romantic & family relationships and community work. Rodriguez will sadly discover history repeating itself in his son Ramiro's battles.
Kadija Mills
May 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed his first book and this year being my senior year in my leadership development class we had to choose a book of a person who inspired our lives and I decided to find and read his second book and it took a while but I finally found it and I enjoyed every piece. His life is very interesting and I love the way people as you enter but I enjoyed being able to feel and see through his eyes it was amazing.
Christian Cordero
Nov 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think that this book was good because it describes how the author lived his life and all the ups and downs he had. The problems he encountered he had to get over them to live a good drug free life with his family. Through out this book it shows how he evolved from being a gang member to helping gang members get out of the gang that they were in. Besides that it also talked about how he helped the raza not be against each other or kill each other.
Nov 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book because I read another book by this author and I thought that he put a lot of thought into the book Always Running so I picked up this one. I think that he really did show how the what was happening in the book with the words that he picked to describe his story.I also picked this book because I like these kind of topic's in book's because I think their interesting.
Oct 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What i thought about the book was that it was interesting. Luis shares some of the most important things that happened in his life, and how he got threw everything. And i like how he helps his own son get out of the problems he was in. Also what he does for other people, and for his family. I would recommend this book to people who like to read nonfiction and about peoples life's.
Mar 31, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was hoping that this book would describe how Luis was able to achieve and maintain sobriety. While it touched on this theme, most of the book was about his activism and his many women and children. To me, his story lacked depth- it more or less reported on various subjects. He does have a background as a reporter but he is also a poet. The poet side of his writing didn't seem to spring forth.
Phino DeLeon
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although, I have to agree with other posts about the stretches in the book that make this read longer, I personally still found this to be a good read. Be prepared avid reader, this book will have you asking whether you should keep reading at times, keep pushing because it is worth getting to the end.
Kari Hansen
It shouldn't be surprising that this book was full of struggle...Rodriguez' life was full of struggle and it's not easy to get out of the web of violence, alcoholism, and multiple girlfriends. The significant part of his life devoted to organizing was impressive, although I would have liked to hear more about how his thinking around it developed.
After thoroughly enjoying Always Running (my students love it, too), I was expecting a bit more from this book, which is advertised as a sequel to Always Running. This new book was still interesting, although I don't think my students will be as fired up about this one...
Aug 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are some real nuggets in this book about a fathers love for his extended family. The author makes you painfully aware of his feelings regarding his oldest son as his son takes the wrong path. The book is a very personal account of what tears a family apart as well as what binds it.
Apr 04, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't read the prequels to this book, so I probably don't have a good understanding of Luis's story. I thought it was a very inspirational book, and I was really happy to learn about his past and all of this struggles.
Grace P.
Oct 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bravo. For making it through alive the situations that kill so many. For finding your way into the healing process for the blows that life deals to humans. For being open and honest in this book. And for working to make this country a better place.
Jan 07, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up after reading Always Running. Both are unique and both worthy of reading. I did enjoy It Calls You Back because Rodriguez explains how he escaped his tough past and became successful. I think it's important to read stories about struggles, for we are always living one.
Jan 16, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I tried but I couldn't finish it. Repetitive, bad writing kept me from finishing. The author has overcome a lot and I would love to meet him -- but I just can't get through the book. Maybe in a couple of years.
Jun 09, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't finish this book. I got a little less than halfway through and just couldn't find it in myself to finish it.
Javier Carcamo
Nov 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book.
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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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