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Street Life: Poverty, Gangs, and a Ph.D. Paperback – January 13, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Dr. Victor Rios lives in Southern California with his wife and 3 kids. He is a professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara where he teaches classes on Juvenile Justice, Youth Culture, and a 550 student class: Introduction to Sociology. He is also author of Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 126 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (January 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1453832696
  • ISBN-13: 978-1453832691
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #141,883 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jeffery Mingo on June 16, 2011
Format: Paperback
A Mexican-American man discusses how he went from an unwanted fetus in Mexico to a family man and professor in the UC system. This is meant to inspire at-risk youth and let them know they can turn another page. It is small in page numbers and, as an adult, I'm not its targeted audience.

One reason why many, including myself, loved them some "Autobiography of Malcolm X." This is partially due to his metamorphosis. He goes from hoodlum to rule-following revolutionary. This has the same quality. Dr. Rios' beginnings were VERY tragic. His mother didn't want him. He only met his father once. He was brought to the US illegally. (He never says if or how he became legal. Perhaps he partook of the amnesty in 1986.) He was pulled into a gang. This has all the elements that one sees in hood/new jack films as well, including imprisonment, police harassment, premature death, etc. However, there is no mention of teen pregnancy here.

Supposedly, we are now in a "post-racial" age. I don't know if Dr. Rios subscribes to that, but there is a way in which this book doesn't bring up race or racism a lot. Near the end, he embraces pre-Columbian Mexican dance, history, and culture. I love that he gave his twin daughters Nahuatl middle names. Still, he says authority figures called him "no good," not "no good due to your ethnicity." I really think an at-risk youth of the majority group would feel quite comfortable reading this text too. There isn't much Spanish here, thus monolinguals won't be scared away. (This is not like a Gloria Anzaldua book that purposely uses code-switching language.)

A well-known LatinO academic named Dr.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By RC1996 on December 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
In this book Victor Rios explains all his horrible times he had growing up. He experienced many challenges many of us can't imagine. From growing up poor to vandalizing liquor stores, Victory Rios is truly one of those people to read about. With his beliefs and hope to one day have a life he'll never imagine growing up. Victor accomplishes the impossible.
With the support from Ms. Russ and his family, Victor turns a .9 GPA to a 1.9 GPA. But that didn't stop him to applying to college. Later on he got accepted to UC Berkeley. Seven years later he graduates with a P.H.D in Sociology. Now with his wife Rebecca and his 3 children, Dr. Rios is living his dream.
This is by far, one of the best books I've ever read. The way Dr. Rios shares his life is truly incredible. With all the descriptive details, it made this book fun and easy to read. Every single paragraph I read was so understandable that I could picture everything in my head. It made the book really hard to put down. By an hour, I had the book finished and it was worth the time.
It all begins with him mom trying to cross the border to get to the U.S.A. to start a good life for her kids. She gets caught the first 2 times built eventually passes it the third time. Just the struggle she goes to save her kids is inspirational . Who would ever thought that a mom who got raped would have a son like this. After 10 years he feels unappreciated, without friends and protection so he heads to the gang life. He get his new nickname," El Puppet" , a gang, and quickly earns respect and a reputation. It's amazing what he goes through to earn a living. He experiences death, prison, drugs, and much more. What really gets me was that he came out clean as if nothing ever happened.
I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to all. All you need is an hour or two and you too could experience what this book has to offer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By batchr on January 29, 2012
Format: Paperback
This book was awesome. I shared it with some of my middle school students and they loved it. Many of the students don't like to read but they finished the book in record time and were engaged and inspired with it's content.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amy Lombardi on June 29, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very simply written for easy reading. Insightful reflection on what it takes to get from an extremely difficult childhood to an extremely successful adulthood.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was having an extremely difficult time connecting with one of my "tough" students at the urban high school where I teach. One day I saw he was reading this book so I decided to go home and buy it. The next day I returned and told him I read it and loved it. It was the tool I needed to connect with him. He felt important that I had taken the time to read a book that means something to him and he slowly started opening up. If you teach students who the world considers "at risk" (Dr. Rios promotes the term "at promise") this is definitely a book that they can relate to and can facilitate real conversations about gang pressure and students' lived experiences in communities that struggle with gang violence. Highly recommend!
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By Cheri on June 5, 2013
Format: Paperback
As a teacher in a high school that has similar demographics to the one Dr. Rios attended, I found this book to be a compelling voyage into the reality of my students. I will be purchasing multiple copies of this book to have in my classroom so that my students can read it. I will also provide this book to the beginning teachers I mentor so they can glimpse into the real lives of our students! This biography is well-written and heartfelt! Education has been the road to success for many of my students--this is a story that needed to be told! I recommend it highly!
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