The Story

Los Angeles homeboy Magdaleno is paroled from prison after serving time on a gun possession frameup by a rival, Rico, who takes over as gang shotcaller in Mags’s absence. Mags promises himself and his Salvadoran immigrant family a fresh start, but he can’t find either the decent job or the respect he craves from his parents and his firefighter brother, who look at him as a disappointment.

Moreover, Rico, under pressure to earn money to free the Cyco Lokos’ jailed top leader and eager to exert his authority over his rival-turned-underling, isn’t about to let Mags get out of his reach. Ultimately, Mags’s desire for revenge and respect pushes him to make a decision that ensnares him in a world seeded with deceit and betrayal, where the only escape from rules that carry a heavy price for transgression is sacrifice.

What readers say

"A talented writer, summoning Mags' world on the page with remarkable empathy and detail."

"A very touching story for such brutal reality. A brilliant book."

 "A wild ride through a world few get to see."

"An authentic and worthwhile read."

"Fluidly poetic, dialogue spot on." 

"A real page-turner that was hard to put down."

"A thought-provoking, literary story that kept me turning the pages."

"Great storytelling, great suspense, great characters."

"A great debut...full of the inevitability of lost lives."

"I was completely drawn into the protagonist's world and wanting to find out how it would shake down."

"The superb writing and the escalating tension will hold you until the very last page."

Readers' Favorite Quotes

Cops. They thought they owned the world and in a way they did. They could do whatever they wanted and get away with it. Everyone listened to them because they had a badge and a uniform. No one listened to us, we were just cholos. But sometimes they were wrong and we were right—and then what?

My life was beginning to feel like a Rubik’s cube. Every time I got the squares of one color lined up, the other colors got twisted out of place.

This jaina had a personality like sandpaper.

Fighting’s the only time when I really feel something, you know, the pain. When I hurt, I know I’m really alive. Feel me?

I vowed I would never become that small brown man. Not long after that, I started running errands for Chivas.


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