From Publishers Weekly
After being physically and emotionally abused by his mother and her live-in boyfriend, Colton Simpson moved in with his grandmother. She took care of him and brought him to church, but Simpson still became Li'l Cee. This was his name among the Crips, and on the night he was initiated into the gang-the same day that he hit a home run in Little League-he shot two men at a gas station. He was ten years old. In this often enthralling and emotional memoir, Simpson takes readers inside his life with the gang, from the time he joined through his 16-month prison sentence and to his leaving the Crips. Some passages are quite graphic and can drag on a bit too long, and some of Simpson's turns of phrase can seem a bit awkward or overdramatic. ("The tumbling dominoes of my life events lose their velocity.") But the world Simpson evokes with Pearlman's help is fascinating, and his narrative is clearly heartfelt. For those readers willing to look, the book provides a window into an often misunderstood way of life.
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The Crips, one of two notorious L.A. street gangs that have attained national prominence, is a famously difficult organization from which to retire alive. Colton "C-Loc" Simpson did, however, and now provides an insider's perspective on day-to-day life in the Crips, the gang's history (including quite a bit about its rival, the Bloods), and the plight of growing up in the 'hood while wanting a better life. To free himself from poverty and constant physical danger, Simpson made some changes. His former wife Gina once accused him of "acting White." He replied, "You think I'm some bourgeoisie Negro? My changes aren't negative and White. They're positive and pro-Black"--which reveals both changed attitude and just how wide the racial-cultural gulf has become. Though gritty, Simpson's story is by no means hopeless. "Life is something to live and do, not to verbalize," he says shortly before signing off with "In Struggle, Little Cee (Loc, no more)." This unvarnished portrayal of gang life is enlightening and even inspiring about a subject badly in need of illumination. Mike Tribby
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