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

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

4.5 4
by Luis J. Rodriguez
 

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From the bestselling author of Always Running, a new memoir chronicling his harrowing journey from gang member to one of the most revered figures in Chicano literature and American letters.

Growing up on the streets of East Los Angeles, Luis Rodriguez narrowly escaped a serious jail term for assaulting two police officers and then struggled to overcome

Overview


From the bestselling author of Always Running, a new memoir chronicling his harrowing journey from gang member to one of the most revered figures in Chicano literature and American letters.

Growing up on the streets of East Los Angeles, Luis Rodriguez narrowly escaped a serious jail term for assaulting two police officers and then struggled to overcome his powerful addiction to heroin and alcohol. His recovery was a rich, tumultuous journey. He worked in a series of jobs; married several times; fathered four children; ran for political office; traveled the world; established a poetry press, community center, and bookstore; and became an internationally respected gang interventionist. Eventually, Rodriguez embarked on a career as a successful journalist and a highly regarded poet. But his life was no rags-to-riches fairy tale.

In It Calls You Back, Rodriguez describes with heartbreaking honesty his challenges as a husband and a father and his difficulty leaving his criminal past completely behind. Most disturbing is the terrifying realization that he cannot save his own son from the deadly lure of gang life. Luis’s emotional journey offers deep insight into barrio life and the embattled souls of those heroic men and women who risk everything to make it out—and return to help those left behind.

Editorial Reviews

Luis J. Rodriguez's 1993 memoir Always Running (9780743276917) rendered the L.A. gang war scene so vividly that appreciative reviewers compared it to George Orwell's classic Down and Out in Paris and London. Since then, his readers have hoped and waited for a sequel; here, eighteen years later, it is. It Calls You Back is no less powerful than its predecessor. Rodriguez's memoir begins with an account of a final teenage prison stint, but he makes no claim of making a smooth, heroic recovery. Instead, he writes with bracing honesty about his intermittent failure to overcome his drug addictions, raging anger, and connections with the dangerous life that he vowed to leave behind. It Calls You Back possesses a fervent down these mean streets candor that makes us respect its embattled author even more.

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.)
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.

From the Publisher
Starred Review. "...needle-to-skin candor...courageously forthright...every teen concerned about gangs will learn profound lessons from this frank and demanding memoir." - Booklist

"Rodriguez tells an honest, direct story." - Publishers Weekly

"...brilliantly jagged sequel...Raw, searing reading from start to finish." - Kirkus Review

"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 do - and does it in spades. My respect for his metamorphosis can only be described as awe." - John Densmore, bestselling author of Riders on the Storm

"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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781416584162
Publisher:
Touchstone
Publication date:
10/04/2011
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
704,839
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

The son of Mexican immigrants, Luis J. Rodriguez began writing in his early teens and has won national recognition as a poet, journalist, fiction writer, children's book writer, and critic. Currently working as a peacemaker among gangs on a national and international level, Rodriguez helped create Tia Chucha's Café & Centro Cultural, a multiarts, multimedia cultural center in the Northeast San Fernando Valley. Visit his website: www.luisjrodriguez.com.

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It Calls You Back 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Latinjustice74 More than 1 year ago
The book has a couple of low points but all in all it was a quick read, and keeps you wanting more!! Very good books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ii.k.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Though interesting and a good follow up to Always Running, the writing is full of redundancies and self accolades.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago