cover image War of the Bloods in My Veins: A Memoir

War of the Bloods in My Veins: A Memoir

Peter D. Ward, Jason Davis, . . Scribner, $25 (222pp) ISBN 978-1-4165-4846-1

“Ayy Blood, we gotta take a ride. Hop yo’ ass in the bawr,” shouts a veteran gangbanger to Morris near the beginning of this disappointing work. Raised in poverty by a crack-smoking single mother, Morris spins a woeful tale of constant violence, serious crime and murder galore. Shuttled back and forth across the country as a boy, he quickly falls in with the Bloods—an African-American street gang whose thirst for inflicting pain on others seems rarely slaked. Attack breeds revenge in an endless cycle of death, with Morris placing himself at the center of it all. “There’s an adrenaline rush when I whip my burner out,” he writes. “It’s a confidence-booster to see how the toughest guys cry for their lives when I cock that shit back.” Obviously meant to be raw and from the “street,” this whole project reads as self-aggrandizing. Compounding the amateurish feel are clunky poems penned by Jason Davis preceding each chapter. If all this is meant to inspire African-American and Latino youth to turn their backs on the thug life, as Terrie Williams writes in the overwrought afterword, it fails miserably. What it does is reinforce stereotypes that already dominate the mainstream media. (Apr.)