It Calls You Back

An Odyssey through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing

By Luis J. Rodriguez
(Touchstone, Paperback, 9781416584179, 336pp.)

Publication Date: July 3, 2012

Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover, Compact Disc, MP3 CD

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In a harrowing journey from drugged-out gang member to one of the most revered figures in Chicano literature and American letters, Luis J. Rodríguez continues the remarkable story of his bestselling memoir, Always Running.

Hundreds of thousands of readers came to know Luis J. Rodríguez 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, and the winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award, It Calls You Back is the equally harrowing story of Rodríguez’s attempt to start over, at age eighteen, after his final stint in jail and nearly a decade of gang life. 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, Rodríguez 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, Rodríguez 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.

About the Author

The son of Mexican immigrants, Luis J. Rodríguez began writing in his early teens and has won national recognition as a poet, journalist, fiction writer, children’s book writer, and critic. Rodríguez helped create Tia Chucha’s Café & Centro Cultural. Visit

Praise For It Calls You Back

“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

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