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I couldn't believe what a terrible life Sanchez had before he even started going to ...
on May 25, 2017
I'm not giving this book 5 stars because of the writing, but because the events were so eye-opening. As a middle school teacher in the Chicago area, Sanchez's story reminded me of how much kids are affected by the neglect and abuse of their parents. Sanchez's absences from school made me sick with worry about some of my own students who miss a lot of school.
I couldn't believe what a terrible life Sanchez had before he even started going to school. It's unfortunate that his mother not only allowed abuse to happen to her child, but also participated in it. At the end, Sanchez says he blames his mother, and I completely agree with him.
Throughout the retelling of the experiences Sanchez had as a gang member of the Latin Kings, I felt really conflicted. I rooted for him because I knew he has such a hard life and was doing what he needed to do to survive, but I was also sick to my stomach with how many people he killed and the way he disrespected and abused women. I kept checking myself by reminding myself that he was a teenager throughout the telling of this story and that he does reflect and say that drugs and alcohol made him "brave" and that he now understands his actions were wrong.
I also think about how Sanchez CHOSE to get out, even if it took him six years. That's a really hard thing to do, and I think that takes courage. Throughout his whole retelling of his time as a Latin King, I was amazed at how long Sanchez survived and after finishing the book, I still don't completely understand gang life.
While the content of his story is wildly inappropriate for Middle and high school students, unfortunately, those are the kids that need to read it to truly understand the lifestyle of a gang member, and I have nothing but respect for Sanchez for telling his story to help save someone else.
Given Sanchez's background, I didn't expect great writing; however, I do think more sophisticated writing would enhance the emotional effects of his story. Of course I was sad about what happens, but despite all the tragedy in the story, I didn't cry at all or ever come close, and I feel like maybe I should have.