Publishers Weekly
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As a sequel to My Bloody Life, Sanchez's memoir of sex, drugs and violence in the Chicago street gang the Latin Kings, the author recounts the hardships of postgang life. He vividly describes the struggle to separate himself from his previous "drunken, drug-crazed, violent" persona. Initially, the temptations of his "past glory" prove irresistible, and while he does not rejoin the gang, he moves back to the 'hood, gets involved with drugs and eventually goes to prison for possession. Incarceration, however, becomes a "blessing in disguise"; Sanchez spends most days "reading the Bible, sketching, and writing poetry." His rosy view of prison is a product of his past as a King, because their network in jail gives him protection and respect. Once released, he finds himself alone and tormented by horrifying memories of physical and sexual abuse and a deep sense of worthlessness, but he manages to get a job and learns to feel "the peacefulness of [his] freedom." Eventually, Sanchez finds his "soul mate" in Marilyn, an educated Puerto Rican woman from the Bronx whom he idolizes but later abuses, projecting onto her his resentment against his unloving mother. This detailed history can be exhaustive in its graphic, unsettling depictions of sex and violence, and Sanchez's prose is often cliched: "She spoke softly and moved in a way that said, 'I'm all woman.'" The book also lacks specific year references (Sanchez explains he's concealing essentials to protect himself and other people). But in the end, Sanchez's story of survival in the face of great odds rings true. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved