The life of a Puerto Rican gangbanger on the cold Chicago streets, dully presented.
Having exhausted his own criminal exploits, Sanchez (Once a King, Always a King: The Unmaking of a Latin King, 2003, etc.) turns to female wrongdoing, as practiced and experienced by “Lady Q.” That was his co-author’s nickname when she was a ruthless member of the Latin Queens, female counterparts of Sanchez and his fellows in the Latin Kings. Growing up in Humboldt Park, Chicago’s gang-ridden Puerto Rican neighborhood, Sonia Rodriguez was alternately ignored and beaten by her near-psychotic mother, whose deadbeat boyfriends often degraded and sexually abused the girl. It’s no shock that Sonia took fast to teen rebellion and gangbanging. By the mid-1980s, she’d joined the Latin Queens and was taking part in drive-by shootings. After she broke the gang’s code by bragging about her affiliations on Oprah Winfrey’s local talk show while her real name and nickname were flashed on-screen, her mother sent her to relatives in rural Pennsylvania. She fell for a cousin, got pregnant and got herself and the child thrown out by her relatives. Back in Chicago, Lady Q caught the attention of Tino, imprisoned head of the Kings. She became his consort during one of her visits to him in jail (the Kings wielded vast power inside as well as on the streets) and vaulted up the chain of command. The predictable fall came with coke addiction and a stint in county; the book closes with some halfhearted talk about redemption. Related in the third person, the story loses much of its authenticity. The co-authors’ narrative style doesn’t help, whipsawing between a flat recital of events and canned bathos like, “The miracle of life has a way of blinding evil eyes and warming cold hearts.”
Reveals little of interest about Lady Q or the world she moved in.