Describes how hard it is to escape gang life; and the lasting damage of physical, mental, and sexual abuse.
As a sequel to My Bloody Life, Sanchez's memoir of sex, drugs and violence in the Chicago street gang the Latin Kings, the author recounts the hardships of postgang life. He vividly describes the struggle to separate himself from his previous "drunken, drug-crazed, violent" persona. Initially, the temptations of his "past glory" prove irresistible, and while he does not rejoin the gang, he moves back to the 'hood, gets involved with drugs and eventually goes to prison for possession. Incarceration, however, becomes a "blessing in disguise"; Sanchez spends most days "reading the Bible, sketching, and writing poetry." His rosy view of prison is a product of his past as a King, because their network in jail gives him protection and respect. Once released, he finds himself alone and tormented by horrifying memories of physical and sexual abuse and a deep sense of worthlessness, but he manages to get a job and learns to feel "the peacefulness of [his] freedom." Eventually, Sanchez finds his "soul mate" in Marilyn, an educated Puerto Rican woman from the Bronx whom he idolizes but later abuses, projecting onto her his resentment against his unloving mother. This detailed history can be exhaustive in its graphic, unsettling depictions of sex and violence, and Sanchez's prose is often cliched: "She spoke softly and moved in a way that said, 'I'm all woman.'" The book also lacks specific year references (Sanchez explains he's concealing essentials to protect himself and other people). But in the end, Sanchez's story of survival in the face of great odds rings true. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Plodding, predictable sequel to former gangbanger Sanchez’s earlier memoir, My Bloody Life (2000). The pseudonymous author must be enthusiastically applauded for his struggle to extract himself from the jaws of the monster. What cannot be applauded is his prose, which never ventures beyond mediocre. Once again, the author declares he is writing his story as a cautionary tale; once again, he says he has changed his name and other details to protect his family. Once again, his claim is disingenuous: he confessed to murders in the first volume, and the Chicago police presumably would like to know who and where he is. Sanchez begins with his official excommunication from the Kings (they beat him for three minutes) and chronicles subsequent attempts to make it on his own. He fails and is soon trying to live on his rep as an ex-King. Early on, he claims to be taking classes and working as a data-entry clerk at the University of Chicago, but a hundred pages later he applies for the job we thought he already had. We hear about his gradual return to doing and dealing drugs, his serial sexual exploits (some conveyed in enough detail to make Larry Flynt flinch), his deceptions and darknesses. (At least he doesn’t kill anyone this time.) Most attractive women desire him, and he eagerly accommodates them. Lilly waits for him while he’s serving time, but after his release, he trades her in on fellow writing student Michele. After he scares off Michele, next is Marilynthe love of his life, he claims, though soon enough he’s calling her vile names, hitting her, and threatening to slash her to death. She dumps him after they move to Dallas. He goes to Miami, marries, fathers children, enterstherapy. Hardly a sentence goes by without a cliché or a common trinket offered as a crown jewel. Criminal. Agent: Jane Dystel
“The pseudonymous author must be enthusiastically applauded for his struggle to extract himself from the jaws of the monster.” —KirkusReviews
“A slow-motion riot of drugs, sex and gunplay.” —Publishers Weekly on My Bloody Life
“A survivor who turned his life around, Sanchez writes plainly and powerfully, and what is shocking about his tragic tale is not the barbaric actions of young gangbangers but the appalling collusion of adults, from criminally abusive parents to mercenary gun dealers and immoral cops.” —Booklist on My Bloody Life
“Sanchez carefully traces his own transformation from an inner-city Puerto Rican boy who likes to play baseball into an accomplished gangbanger in Chicago's notorious Latin Kings—someone for whom pulling the trigger was becoming second nature.” —The Washington Post on My Bloody Life