Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A. (Paperback)

Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A. By Luis J. Rodriguez Cover Image
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The award-winning and bestselling classic memoir about a young Chicano gang member surviving the dangerous streets of East Los Angeles, now featuring a new introduction by the author.

Winner of the Carl Sandburg Literary Award, hailed as a New York Times notable book, and read by hundreds of thousands, Always Running is the searing true story of one man’s life in a Chicano gang—and his heroic struggle to free himself from its grip.

By age twelve, Luis Rodriguez was a veteran of East Los Angeles gang warfare. Lured by a seemingly invincible gang culture, he witnessed countless shootings, beatings, and arrests and then watched with increasing fear as gang life claimed friends and family members. Before long, Rodriguez saw a way out of the barrio through education and the power of words and successfully broke free from years of violence and desperation.

Achieving success as an award-winning poet, he was sure the streets would haunt him no more—until his young son joined a gang. Rodriguez fought for his child by telling his own story in Always Running, a vivid memoir that explores the motivations of gang life and cautions against the death and destruction that inevitably claim its participants.

At times heartbreakingly sad and brutal, Always Running is ultimately an uplifting true story, filled with hope, insight, and a hard-earned lesson for the next generation.

About 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, Rodriguez helped create Tia Chucha’s Café & Centro Cultural, a multiarts, multimedia cultural center in the northeast San Fernando Valley. He is the recipient of the 2021 Los Angeles Times Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement. Visit him at

Praise For…

"An absolutely unique work: richly literary and poetic, yet urgent and politically explosive at the same time...A permanent testament to human courage and transcendence."
-- Jonathan Kozol, author of Savage Inequalities

"Rodriguez's account of his coming of age is vivid, raw...fierce, and fearless...Here's truth no television set, burning night and day, could ever begin to offer."
-- Gary Soto, The New York Times Book Review

"Every spiky anecdote from a life of guns, razors, uppers, downers, glue, heroin, sex, and early death supports this former gang member's view of the violence as collective suicide. That Rodriguez's memoir takes place...before the '92 L.A. riots only makes this beautifully written and politically astute account more compelling."
-- Suzanne Ruta, Entertainment Weekly

"Extraordinarily haunting and evocative."
-- Paul Ruffins, The Washington Post Book World

Product Details
ISBN: 9780743276917
ISBN-10: 0743276914
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: October 4th, 2005
Pages: 288
Language: English