Novel: “Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A.”
Author: Luis J. Rodriguez
This is my personal review of “Always Running”. Disclaimer, I am not a novelist, journalist, or editor; I’m a lawyer. The views expressed in this post are all my opinions and I have no degree to back these opinions.
I purchased “Always Running” from Barnes & Noble while Christmas shopping in December 2016 with my cousin. Our plan was to read the novel at the same time and discuss. That did not happen. I began the novel in January 2016 and didn’t finish it until March 2016; my vice is that I read multiple books simultaneously. I am pleased to have finished it because it was fantastic.
“Always Running” follows “It Calls You Back” written previously by Rodriguez. (I have not read “It Calls You Back.) The back cover of the “Always Running” partly describes the novel as “… a vivid memoir that explores the motivation of gang life and cautions against the death and destruction that inevitably claims its participants.” The author is the main character, Louie, and the novel/memoir is told in the omniscient, first person. The book tells the many tales of Louie from his childhood to the legal age of eighteen. It outlines the hardships of the average Mexican-American living in Southern California, the importance/destruction of gang life, police brutality towards minority groups, the carnal sexuality of minors, and the failures of the public school system.
As a Black-American, I have been focused on the unfair and brutal treatment of Blacks at the hands of whites in America. It was a change of perception to read about the gross treatment of Chicanos at the hands of whites in America. Rodriguez’s stories of his childhood are synonymous to the heart wrenching stories I read, today, about the mistreatment of black youth in schools and by police officers.
“Always Running” is written for the socially aware, world changing audience. It is not for the reader who enjoys happy endings and a release from the real world. Upon finishing this book, I felt a renewed sense of purpose and call for action.
My only negative comment is that the novel is not in perfect chronological order. This was a minute inconvenience and I only mention it for complete transparency. I’m not sure about the topic of “It Calls You Back,” but I will be reading it soon.