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

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

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by Luis J. Rodriguez
     
 

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Luis Rodriguez, author of the award-winning and bestselling classic memoir Always Running, chronicles his harrowing journey from a drugged-out gang member to one of the most revered figures in Chicano literature.

Hundreds of thousands of readers came to know Luis J. Rodriguez through his fearless classic, Always Running, which chronicled his early

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Overview

Luis Rodriguez, author of the award-winning and bestselling classic memoir Always Running, chronicles his harrowing journey from a drugged-out gang member to one of the most revered figures in Chicano literature.

Hundreds of thousands of readers came to know Luis J. Rodriguez through his fearless classic, Always Running, which chronicled his early life as a young Chicano gang member surviving the dangerous streets of East Los Angeles. The long-awaited follow-up, It Calls You Back is the equally harrowing story of Rodriguez starting over, at age eighteen, after leaving gang life—the only life he really knew.

The book opens with Rodriguez’s final stint in jail as a teenager and follows his struggle to kick heroin, renounce his former life, and search for meaningful work. He describes with heartbreaking honesty his challenges as a father, and his difficulty leaving his rages and addictions completely behind. Even as he breaks with “la vida loca” and begins to discover success as a writer and an activist, Rodriguez finds that his past—the crimes, the drugs, the things he’d seen and done—has a way of calling him back.

When his oldest son is sent to prison for attempted murder, Rodriguez is forced to confront his shortcomings as a father, and to acknowledge how and why his own history is repeating itself, right before his eyes.

Deeply insightful and beautifully written, It Calls You Back is an odyssey through love, addiction, revolutions, and healing.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
L.A. author and poet Rodriguez has written extensively on his redemptive turn from gang warfare and jail to self-awareness and community activism (Always Running). Here he deliberates pointedly on that journey accompanied by the safety of reflective hindsight. He fills in the details of his erratic trajectory, played out on the edge of a recklessness and anger fueled by growing up in an impoverished barrio in the San Gabriel Valley of L.A. County, where many Hispanic youth get sucked into a self-perpetuating pursuit of drugs, gang life, repeated arrest, early pregnancy, blunted education, and dead-end jobs. His early life was no exception from this depressing pattern of failure: born to hardworking Mexican immigrants, a member of Las Lomas gang, pumped up on drugs, he served some months in jail in 1973 for assaulting police officers. He yearned for “another way to go,” and managed to get clean in jail and walk away from that life, marry a like-minded young woman (she was only 18), secure a brief career at Bethlehem Steel, and get involved in issues of social justice. Even in his apprenticeship as a “minority” journalist, however, the soreness from old wounds continued to disturb him, especially in the raising of his children from different wives. Rodriguez tells an honest, direct story, though stripped of rawness by years of reworking. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
“Extraordinarily haunting and provocative.” —The Washington Post Book World

“Rodriguez’s account of his coming of age is vivid, raw….Here’s truth no television set, burning night and day, could ever begin to offer.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Beautifully written and politically astute.” —Entertainment Weekly

"Rodriguez’s life story is astonishing . . . It takes a heart broken open by a lifetime of sorrows to write with this wisdom and compassion. It takes a visionary to use this knowledge in service to those the world despises—troubled youth, the homeless, the incarcerated, the poor, the migrant—to be called back for those you love."
—Sandra Cisneros, author of Caramelo and The House on Mango Street

“This is a man who understands that ‘giving back’ is a natural thing to doand does it in spades. My respect for his metamorphosis can only be described as awe.”

—John Densmore, bestselling author of Riders on the Storm: My Life with Jim Morrison and the Doors

“Two decades ago Luis Rodríguez became a superhero in Chicano literature with his survivor's story of a gangbanger youth. Here, again, he beautifully details his not-so-ordinary life, its tragedies and graces, but now as a son, husband, father, a worker, journalist, and successful author. With It Calls You Back, Rodriguez maps out his activist past and leads us into the future. Adelante!”
—Dagoberto Gilb, author of The Flowers and Before the End, After the Beginning

Kirkus Reviews

In this brilliantly jagged sequel to the gang-life classic, Always Running (1994), acclaimed journalist, poet and fiction writer Rodriguez (Music of the Mill, 2005, etc.) chronicles his struggle to leave behind a drug- and crime-ridden world that always threatened to "call him back."

An acute political consciousness and powerful love of the written word ultimately saved the author from the lurking dangers of the street and the "nothing life" to which most Latinos in East Los Angeles were automatically condemned. After leading a thankless working-class existence that amounted to little more than "despair on the fast track," Rodriguez landed in a training program for minority journalists at UC-Berkeley. "[A]s a reporter," he writes, "I could help right the wrongs, accomplish something long lasting with what I was being given. Now truth and the full picture could bleed from the pen or a camera, not from a gun." But the way forward was as difficult as it was anguished. At every turn, Rodriguez had to face not only a troubled past that still beckoned to him, but also his own personal demons: alcoholism, heroine addiction and a violent temper that indiscriminately "roll[ed] over people, family, friends, kids, [and] enemies." He overcame his darker urgings, but not without revisiting them through his eldest son, who became tragically entangled in the "web" Rodriguez had escaped. Yet it was this very crisis that brought him into more authentic alignment with himself as it drew him closer to a family and community that, for all its "diversity and antagonisms," he could not help but love.

Raw, searing reading from start to finish.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781416584179
Publisher:
Touchstone
Publication date:
07/03/2012
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
96,167
Product dimensions:
5.74(w) x 8.54(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

The son of Mexican immigrants, Luis J. Rodríguez began writing in his early teens and has won national recognition as a poet, journalist, fiction writer, children’s book writer, and critic. Rodríguez helped create Tia Chucha’s Café & Centro Cultural. Visit LuisJRodriguez.com.

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