It Calls You Back: An Odyssey through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing (Paperback)

It Calls You Back: An Odyssey through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing By Luis J. Rodriguez Cover Image
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Luis Rodriguez, author of the award-winning and bestselling classic memoir Always Running, chronicles his harrowing journey from a drugged-out gang member to one of the most revered figures in Chicano literature.

Hundreds of thousands of readers came to know Luis J. Rodriguez through his fearless classic, Always Running, which chronicled his early life as a young Chicano gang member surviving the dangerous streets of East Los Angeles. The long-awaited follow-up, It Calls You Back is the equally harrowing story of Rodriguez starting over, at age eighteen, after leaving gang life—the only life he really knew.

The book opens with Rodriguez’s final stint in jail as a teenager and follows his struggle to kick heroin, renounce his former life, and search for meaningful work. He describes with heartbreaking honesty his challenges as a father, and his difficulty leaving his rages and addictions completely behind. Even as he breaks with “la vida loca” and begins to discover success as a writer and an activist, Rodriguez finds that his past—the crimes, the drugs, the things he’d seen and done—has a way of calling him back.

When his oldest son is sent to prison for attempted murder, Rodriguez is forced to confront his shortcomings as a father, and to acknowledge how and why his own history is repeating itself, right before his eyes.

Deeply insightful and beautifully written, It Calls You Back is an odyssey through love, addiction, revolutions, and healing.

About the Author

The son of Mexican immigrants, Luis J. Rodriguez began writing in his early teens and has won national recognition as a poet, journalist, fiction writer, children's book writer, and critic. Currently working as a peacemaker among gangs, Rodriguez helped create Tia Chucha's Café & Centro Cultural, a multiarts, multimedia cultural center in the Northeast San Fernando Valley. He is the recipient of the 2021 Los Angeles Times Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement. Visit him at

Praise For…

“Extraordinarily haunting and provocative.” —The Washington Post Book World

“Rodriguez’s account of his coming of age is vivid, raw….Here’s truth no television set, burning night and day, could ever begin to offer.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Beautifully written and politically astute.” —Entertainment Weekly

"Rodriguez’s life story is astonishing . . . It takes a heart broken open by a lifetime of sorrows to write with this wisdom and compassion. It takes a visionary to use this knowledge in service to those the world despises—troubled youth, the homeless, the incarcerated, the poor, the migrant—to be called back for those you love."

—Sandra Cisneros, author of Caramelo and The House on Mango Street

“This is a man who understands that ‘giving back’ is a natural thing to doand does it in spades. My respect for his metamorphosis can only be described as awe.”

—John Densmore, bestselling author of Riders on the Storm: My Life with Jim Morrison and the Doors

“Two decades ago Luis Rodríguez became a superhero in Chicano literature with his survivor's story of a gangbanger youth. Here, again, he beautifully details his not-so-ordinary life, its tragedies and graces, but now as a son, husband, father, a worker, journalist, and successful author. With It Calls You Back, Rodriguez maps out his activist past and leads us into the future. Adelante!”

—Dagoberto Gilb, author of The Flowers and Before the End, After the Beginning

Product Details
ISBN: 9781416584179
ISBN-10: 141658417X
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: July 3rd, 2012
Pages: 336
Language: English