BOOK REPORT by CAITLIN BUTLER
The book Always: Living La Vida Loca by Luis Rodriguez is about a man named Luis who grew up in L.A. during the 60’s and 70’s. When he moved from Mexico to L.A. that’s where things started falling apart for him. The major themes of this story are violence, police brutality, man vs. society, and fighting for something. The main argument of this book is when the Chicanos were treated as second-class citizens everywhere, but this mostly happened to Rodriguez in schools where he went. On page 137, it says, “Pulled in well off white kids”. The Chicanos were oppressed and the whites were seen as better people than the Mexicans.
The most interesting part of the book was when the girl had to join the gang in order to be protected from the others. Another interesting part was when Rodriguez and others were at the beach and got harassed and beat up by two guys who they later found out were both cops. It was very hard for Rodriguez because he basically grew up in a neighborhood where the people living there did not like Mexicans. So, the only way out for him was to join the gang. It became his only protection at that point and that is why he did it. There was definitely racism, injustice and prejudice that happened. On page 65, it says how the Mexicans suck. The white kids would also say to him and his brother, “what do we have here, spices to order, maybe with some beans”. They were right from the start harassed by all the whites kids in L.A. I know that if I had to deal with this kind of thing, I would just be so angry and upset. I would probably just go home and hide inside the house the whole time, until they left me alone.
This relates to the things that we talked about in class because this entire book is based in an urban environment. It also relates to class because just like we had to do storytelling, Luis also told his storytelling in his own way. It also related to gendered places. It revolves around mostly men. It’s amazing to see how much violence there is in urban areas all around. Not to say that there aren’t violent places elsewhere, but I always hear about violence in urban areas. One of my favorite things that Luis says in the book is that gangs are not the problem, but the society that creates these gangs that becomes the problem. That is very true. If one thinks about it, society is what makes gangs happen in the first place because of poverty level, etc. But it is how the person handles it that makes all the difference in the end. But for most minorities and the poor, there is no other alternative than to join a gang. That is all that they become to know and get used to. But it takes very special people, like Luis to finally get out of a gang and turn their life all around for the best, making it all worthwhile for the person.
Luis Rodriguez is a very smart, nice and dedicated person who later became and made something of him self. He later left the gang and became an activist against gangs. But even that didn’t solve all his problems. His son was in jail for 28 years for four attempted murder charges. So, just because one family member makes it out, doesn’t always mean all of the family members will get out. That is what makes the whole thing so sad. But I guess it can take just one person to change things for the best. I love how Luis courage and bravery got him out. He saw past the gang and the violence and instead saw love, hope and determination to a better life and world for himself and others. He can now go and carry that for the rest of his life. I just love inspiring stories such as this one. Because it shows that anything is possible if you try!