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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.
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on January 17, 2016
I found this book completely by accident. I was searching for "My Reviews" and this along with a thousand other books and gadgets popped up. I saw this (not sure why it came up on a search of "My Reviews"), and it sounded interesting so I ordered a sample. The sample is all it took - I didn't hesitate to order the book, and immediately ordered his next book (Once a King Always a King) when I finished this one. His third book will be next (Lady Q).

Sanchez's story telling is brilliant - a clean, crisp, and remarkably detailed history of the events of a hardcore gang banger whose life revolved around alcohol, drugs, violence, and sex. Although there is plenty of abuse, it's not a "woe is me" tale of abuse or how the system beat him down. He doesn't glamorize the lifestyle. It's simply a tragic story of a kid who didn't know another life but somehow found a way out. It reminded me, "There but for the grace of God go I."

I literally couldn't stop reading this book - I read it walking to work, eating lunch, and every spare second of the day.
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on July 23, 2017
As an abused young boy Lil Loco (which was his gang name) was just looking for love and support. He was looking for a place where he wouldn't be abused or mistreated. In return though he mistreated multiple women, became involved in crimes and swore his loyalty to the Latin Kings. Reymundo gives an open and honest look into life in a gang, the situations that he finds himself in are heartbreaking at times and make you angry at others. I have read this book several times and I am sure I will read it more.
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on March 29, 2017
Although Reyes presents a more violent and crude picture of gang life than Always Running and Down These Mean Streets, I appreciate his honesty. His story is sad and true for many young Latino men and women growing up in these neighborhoods. It is a devastatingly accurate portrayal of how we as a society and "the system" continue to disproportionately fail our minority youth. Accounts like these are a must read for everyone regardless of race, socio economic status, gender, religion etc. we should all know what our role is in putting a stop to racism in our communities and fighting for equality for all. No child should ever be allowed to grow up in these conditions, much less to become killers and/or drug addicts.

Also Highly recommend, 13th documentary on Netflix
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on December 22, 2016
It was an okay book. Very brutal, but then he had a brutal life and came from an abusive household. It was interesting that he always saw himself as a coward. He's a serial rapist and he killed quite a few people, how is it that he's still a free man?. Maybe its in his next book. This book also reads like a book of exploints, not a book to say don't join a gang. On the contrary the way he tells it Latin Kings offer security, identity, status, stability, financial help etc. he keeps saying the bosses are the only ones profiting blah blah and they don't help blah blah and then directly contradicts what he said.
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on February 22, 2017
With the classes I'm taking right now for my degree in Criminology and Law and Sociology, this was a required book.I am so glad it was required, as it was a GREAT read. You just don't realize how sheltered you've grown up until you are able to see things from other's perspective. Even some of my friends who didn't grow up so sheltered and had very hard times...they don't compare to this life.
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on February 12, 2018
I'm not even sure what led me to buy this book, but I stayed up too late several nights in a row because I could not put it down. The violence, loss of life and hopelessness for these gangbangers is interesting to read about, but depressing when you realize it is real.
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on September 14, 2016
Growing up on the South Side of Chicago, this book talks a lot of the things that I grew up hearing and sometimes seeing. It's an extremely interesting autobiography on the inside of the Latin Kings. I think it's a great book for curious readers and young men/women growing up.
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on November 1, 2017
this book was almost too much to swallow. his life is just beyond what anyone should have to endure. well-written, page-turner.
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on April 26, 2017
Love the book. Its gonna be my 3rd time reading it. One time i borrowed it from a friend. Then from the library. And finally i got to own it! Definitely had to go in my book collection.
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