Dear Dr. Rios,
My name is Christy-Lynn Lagula. I am 16 years old, and I live in Oakland, Ca. I currently go to Fremont High School. I have just finished chapter 8 of your autobiography Street Life. When I first started reading your autobiography, I did not think it was going to be as good and interesting as it is. I thought it was going to be a long boring autobiography, but the more I kept reading it, it got more interesting. I think your autobiography caught my attention because I can relate to some things you went through and how you felt. Also, we come from the same town, so you know how it is living in Oakland, or the Bay area in general.
While I been reading your book I have been doing little projects about it. So far I’ve done blog posts talking about some your chapters on youth voices. I have also been doing imagery annotations on all the chapters I read. Last but not least I did a couple of audio recordings reading paragraphs from your book using tone and inflection.
I feel bad about different parts of your story that you shared in the chapters titled “The Snake Belt” and “A True Gangster”.
In chapter 7, when you said, “He called his brothers, sisters, and parents in Mexico, and when the $500 phone bill arrived, he told my mother that maybe they should stop seeing eachother”(Rios, 36). I want you to know that you are very strong to stick around to help and support your mother the best way you can. It must have been hard for you to see your mother go through rough relationships and being powerless because you could not do anything about it because you were young and a child. It also must have been hard on your mom because she did not even have enough to keep yours and hers on. Also, you said, “Afraid of being beaten, I told my mother the truth; I had been working to help pay the bills” (Rios, 36), and I thought that was terrifying and hard to tell your mother because you knew that her hope and dream was for you to get your education and finish school and all you wanted to do was help her. I understand and respect you Victor for trying to take things into your hands so you would not see your mother struggling as much.
Then I read chapter 8 where I read, “I was feared for my life” (Rios, 40) and I want you to know that is that I would have been scared for my life also because you were getting beat up for no reason. LITERALLY! That must have been frustrating that did not even see it coming so did not have the chance to even decide to fight back. Lastly, you shared “On the other hand, these guys offered protection that no other group of people had ever offered me, no my teachers, not my mother, not the police” (Rios, 41) and I realized when you are in a gang it does seem like everyone has each other’s back because whenever one is in trouble you see the rest of them. I also learned that people in gangs connect more because they had a rough past and came from broken homes and they all want the same thing which is family they can depend on and money.
I want you to know that I really enjoy your book so far and I am excited to read the rest.
Thank you for reading, and I hope to hear from you,