"Always Running" . . . is a therapeutic autobiography that shakes up our 1990s assumptions that gang violence wouldn't exist if any of these boys had fathers at home, if AK47s weren't available in stores, if the crack trade hadn't made honest work seem so unprofitable. Luis Rodriguez, a Chicano writer who won the 1991 Pen/Josephine Miles award for poetry, survived la vida loca (the crazy life) of Chicano gangs in Los Angeles in the late '60s and early 1970s. Rodriguez, who now lives in Chicago . . . wrote "Always Running" to reach out to his son, Ramiro, who ran away from home and became involved in Chicago's gangs.

The moral of Rodriguez's book is that his redemption from the gang life came through politics, social activism and his writing, which began after the Chicano liberation movement gave him a sense of pride. . . . But what rescues "Always Running" from being just a political morality tale is Rodriguez's honesty about how hard it was for even a very talented young man to escape the pull of gang and neighborhood loyalties. After his political consciousness begins to be raised, he still gets pulled back into a stupid, senseless gang raid where he shoots a man.

Paul Ruffins,

Book World, Feb. 7, 1993