An engrossing, lively autobiographical account of a Puerto Rican ex-con's semi-successful attempt to fuse Christ and the barrio. Piri returns to his old stomping grounds after six years in prison, the names of his dead pals only reinforcing his conviction never to return to the hell of guns, drugs, and jail. Trained as a bricklayer, he can't get a job because of union prejudice, but works instead at all kinds of jobs for mucho little money, meanwhile digging Jesus and the innocent young girl next door whom he eventually marries. The chance to do something for his people comes when he joins a white ex-con preacher who's setting up a storefront club in the heart of Spanish Harlem. Piri gains the trust and respect of both the kids and the cops as he cools the deadly rivalries between the Puerto Ricans and the Italians, to the point where they trust him with their ""pieces"" (guns) and learn to stop ""bopping"" (fighting). Relations with his co-worker deteriorate since Piri sees in him the same hypocrisy revealed by so many white so-called Christian churches, but his faith in a better world and a together-people lives on. The book is written in ""street talk,"" part jive and part Spanish -- alive with ""beau-coup"" sincerity, toughness, and joie de vivre.