This is an autobiography about Mr. Normis and how he grew up in the rough neighborhoods of California in the 1970's and 80's. This book dives head first into the gang life of the times, and rather than romanticizing it, Mr. Normis confronts it with the harsh reality of someone who has lived through it and survived. The author vividly describes and confronts many of the issues that are related to gang life. One of the most controversial issues that Mr. Normis confronts is racism and how he grew up in a white neighborhood that was surrounded by Hispanics and blacks, and the gangs, cultures, and pride that are associated with all three. He analyses the forms of racism that existed, and is very good at making arguments for all of the cultures and “sides”.
He is able to look at some of his friends, people that moved into the neighborhood from other parts of the country, and teachers, and follows some of them from elementary school through to high school. The images that Mr. Normis describes, the fights, the fear, the family conflicts, and the inner turmoil that he faced, comes through in his writing very clearly and effectively. This issue is one that teens, and even teachers and parents, can read and discuss to a great depth and can be approached from many different perspectives.
One of the other issues the author raised that was very strong in this book was the topic of drugs and sex. He is very honest about both his use, and how it affected him. He follows his patterns of drug use, particularly marijuana, and discusses the positive and negative effects.
The author also discusses sex and how it affected his classmates and friends, as well as himself.
This report prepared by West Side