ASHLAND -- A former East Los Angeles gang member is hoping his story of struggle will touch the lives of local youth Thursday at the REACH Ashland Youth Center.

Luis J. Rodriguez will read portions of his award-winning 1993 memoir "Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A." The free two-hour event begins at 6 p.m. and is open to the public. Youth center book club members will be in attendance.

Book club member Daniel Rodriguez, 20, said in a statement, "I am very interested to hear from Luis about how he managed to get out of gang life and what made him change."

The author recently released a follow-up book called, "It Calls you Back: An Odyssey through Love, Addiction, Revolutions and Healing," that won a National Book Critics Circle Award. Called one of the leading Chicano writers in the country, Rodriguez has published 14 books in the memoir, fiction, nonfiction, children's literature and poetry genres. Books will be available for purchase and signing.

The youth center is located at 16335 East 14th Street, San Leandro.

Ashly McGlone covers San Leandro, San Lorenzo, San Ramon and the Washington Township Health Care District. Contact her at 510-293-2463. Follow her at Twitter.com/AshlyReports.



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