Fictional Take on the 1992 L.A. Riots: Ryan Gattis's All Involved

Sometimes, it's so clear to see how much life in the country can affect your views. In the case of the L.A. riots, and many other riots for that matter, I often shake my head wondering how destroying other's property and even injuring or killing another is getting anyone anywhere. Looting an innocent business after an disliked judgment or football game ending, setting fire to other people's cars in protest of police action.... Well, I find it baffling. If you are that upset, run for office and change the laws. It will take time sure, but it's a guaranteed way to get your voice heard and put real change in motion. With that, I'll step down from the soap box.

All Involved takes place during the 1992 L.A. riots, the riots that came after the Rodney King verdict. It's a portrait of 17 stories that all link to each other, but showcases a person dealing with his or her own issues. Start with Ernesto Vera. He works in a food truck and dreams of getting out of his neighborhood and into the kitchen of a popular Japanese restaurant where the sushi chef mesmerizes him. His dream will never be realized, however, as he is murdered on his way home from work. When his sister finds out, she sets out to seek revenge on the gang that killed him. This starts a chain reaction as characters share their stories, fight for survival, and do what they feel they must as police and fire crews focus on the site of the actual riots and take far too long to reach the outlying neighborhoods when crimes are being committed.

This book is gritty and definitely captured the mood of the times, at least what I know of it from media reports. The more I read, however, the more I did keep asking why. Why couldn't the characters in this book stop for one minute and think about what they were doing. That leads back to my earlier soap box speech. Short of Ernesto and a couple others, I just felt that so many of these characters were experiencing karma and I felt no pity for them. It's sad but true. I felt drawn to the setting and the action, but it was hard liking many of the characters and that made it a very hard read.

Ryan Gattis's All Involved was published by Ecco and released in January 2016. You can find it in Amazon and many other retailers.


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