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Growing up in this urban jungle, young Latino men have to make their own way, somehow. The choices presented are not many, and unfortunately many choose what seems at the time to be the path of least resistance. More often than not, this path ends up being the path with the most resistance, long term. A path leading to one of two places, prison and or death.
Every once in a great while, a lucky person beats the odds. Enter “Rise to grace“, a ghetto rags to riches story, one that ends exactly as one would expect. Sort of. Rise to grace is a memoir, the author takes us through his story in a very casual manner. The book reads easily, it’s as if Angel Huertas is sitting down right next to you having a chat.
Huertas starts the story from the very end, a great strategy as a writer because right from that very first page the reader is left with the desire to know how Angel arrived at such a frightening ending.
You immediately discover as of chapter one that this young man was born a cub in a concrete jungle with the odds stacked against him. Lacking a father figure, missing the support and love every young man needs. There was no Snoop Lion in this cub’s life back then. It’s no surprise that he turned to a life of crime. It’s like Tupac said in his song “Dear Momma”:
Now ain’t nobody tell us it was fair
No love from my daddy cause the coward wasn’t there
He passed away and I didn’t cry, cause my anger
wouldn’t let me feel for a stranger
They say I’m wrong and I’m heartless, but all along
I was lookin for a father he was gone
I hung around with the Thugs, and even though they sold drugs
They showed a young brother love
Question, when you think of Williamsburg, do you think of a living hell? A living hell where the streets force you to kill or be killed? Do you think of heroine, drug dealers and murderers? Odds are the answer to that question is a resounding NO. Unless you have been around for a long time, you probably think of a hipster’s paradise, an area filled with trendy restaurants and art galleries.
It wasn’t always like this, Angel Huertas speaks of a different era, a time when walking through the wrong neighborhood could get you beat down or worst, dead. He shares his journey from young drug dealer all the way to top boss running most if not all the heroine game in Brooklyn. All this ending with 2 bullets in the stomach and one in the back, an experience that lead to his discovery of God and his “Rise to grace”.
This book falls in line with Piri Thomas’ “Down these mean streets“. This is not a direct comparison, however the commonality of these 2 stories cannot be denied. Ivan Sanchez’ “Next stop” also tells a similar story. Latino men, the road to death, miraculously saved. Pick up this book and share it with any youngster that wants to enter the drug game. It’s a great eye opener.