Lady Q: The Rise and Fall of a Latin Queen

Lady Q: The Rise and Fall of a Latin Queen

by Reymundo Sanchez, Sonia Rodriguez


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Offering a rarely seen female perspective on gang life, this raw and powerful memoir tells not only of one woman’s struggle to survive the streets but also of her ascent to the top ranks of the new mafia, where the only people more dangerous than rival gangs were members of her own. At age 5 Sonia Rodriguez’s stepfather began to abuse her; at 10 she was molested by her uncle and beaten by her mother when she told on him; and by 13 her home had become a hangout for the Latin Kings and Queens who were friends with her older sister. Threatened by rival gang members at school, Sonia turned away from her education and extracurricular activities in favor of a world of drugs and violence. The Latin Kings, one of the largest and most notorious street gangs in America, became her refuge, but its violence cost her friends, freedom, self-respect, and nearly her life. As a Latin Queen, she experienced the exhilarating highs and unbelievable lows of gang life. From being shot at by her own gang and kicked out at age 18 with an infant daughter to rejoining the gang and distinguishing herself as a leader, her legacy as Lady Q was cemented both for her willingness to commit violence and for her role as a drug mule.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781569762851
Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 07/01/2010
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 199,475
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.02(h) x 0.73(d)

About the Author

Reymundo Sanchez is the pseudonym of a former Latin King who no longer lives in Chicago. He is the author of My Bloody Life and Once a King, Always a King and has appeared on Fox News Chicago, Telemundo, and Univision. Sonia Rodriguez is the pseudonym of a former Latin Queen who no longer lives in Chicago.

Read an Excerpt

Lady Q

The Rise and Fall of a Latin Queen

By Reymundo Sanchez, Sonia Rodriquez

Chicago Review Press Incorporated

Copyright © 2008 Reymundo Sanchez and Sonia Rodriguez
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-56976-448-0



Sonia Rodriguez was born in 1967 in Puerto Rico in the middle of everything — the middle child of three girls, in the middle of an abusive home, and in the middle of the commotion that was her family life. Sonia's mother, Marta, was a stereotypical Puerto Rican woman: illiterate, uneducated, and unable to survive without a man — a welfare mother who had no ambition to improve her life. She was very petite, with the body of a little girl. She spoke no English, had a third-grade education, and began having children at age sixteen. Sonia and her older sister, Vivian, had the same father, who had died of pneumonia when Sonia was still a baby. Marta had quickly remarried, to a man named Carlos, and the couple had a baby girl together, Sonia and Vivian's younger sister, Jazmin. When Sonia was three, Carlos decided to move the family to Chicago, where he hoped to find factory work.

Sonia's older sister, Vivian, was born with a physical disability — both of her feet turned inward, which prevented her from being able to walk. This deformity required many operations to correct. Because of this, all of Sonia's mother's attention was reserved for Vivian.

Soma was five years old when her stepfather began to physically abuse her. At the time, she was having consistent nightmares and walking in her sleep. Almost nightly Sonia dreamt that a man climbed through her window, approached her while she slept, and then touched her. She would wake up crying and afraid. Ignoring Sonia's problem was one thing, but her mother expressed her disbelief with a barrage of insults. She dismissed both the nightmares and the sleepwalking as Sonia's attempt to steal attention away from Vivian. From this tender age Sonia was already filled with doubts about whether her mother loved her.

Eventually Carlos left the family and returned to Puerto Rico, which made an already difficult financial situation even worse. Marta collected government assistance, but this hardly took care of the needs of a family of four.

While the constant fighting and almost daily beatings stopped, the lack of attention from her mother persisted. Vivian's operations allowed her to walk, even though her feet still pointed inward a little, and she therefore required less attention, but that didn't seem to change the amount of time her mother had to pay attention to Sonia. Additionally, although the family was so poor that there was very little to break or lose, Sonia was blamed for anything that turned up broken or missing. That would soon change, however, when Marta met another man.

Sonia's new stepfather was named Juan. He was a short, stocky Puerto Rican who seemed to have an endless supply of money. Within months, Juan moved Sonia and her family from a cheaply furnished, roach-infested, two-bedroom apartment to a lavishly furnished, three-bedroom apartment near Humboldt Park. Sonia, now six years old, welcomed the change because of how nicely her new stepfather treated her. Plus, there was now plenty of food in the house.

Juan spoke very little English although he'd lived in Chicago most of his life. His financial success came from selling heroin, in both large and small quantities. Because of this, the narcotics division of the Chicago Police Department raided the family's apartment about four times a year. Sonia didn't really know what was going on at the time, but she grew to dislike the police because of how they broke through either their front or back door with their guns drawn, screaming orders. All the adults in the house would be handcuffed and the children gathered and placed on the sofa in the living room. Sometimes the police released all the adults and took Juan with them, but mostly they just left without taking anyone into custody. The few times the police did take Juan into custody, he returned home within a couple of hours. To Sonia it seemed more like a game the police played with Juan than anything real. During each and every raid the police left destruction throughout the apartment, which Sonia, Vivian, Jazmin, and their mother cleaned up. These raids were Sonia's only contact with the police, and the episodes left her distrustful of them.

Despite all this turmoil and negativity in her life, Sonia was a good student at Von Humboldt Elementary School. Vivian was also a very good student, whose successes her mother readily acknowledged and bragged about to friends and family. But she didn't extend the same praise to Sonia. Trying to please her mom, Sonia worked even harder at school.

As Sonia tried to cope with the absence of her mother's love and the chaos that the drug dealing brought into her home, the fighting and violence within her family soon returned. Sonia had just turned eight years old when Juan ceased being a nice man. Almost overnight he became an abusive monster. He had always been loud and somewhat obnoxious, but his angry tirades were usually aimed at Marta and had never escalated into violence. Then suddenly it seemed that Juan grew tired of caring for the children in the family that weren't his own and started using them as punching bags. At first the physical abuse was aimed at Vivian, who now, at the age of eleven, Juan accused of being a little whore. When Marta came to Vivian's defense he redirected his attacks at Sonia. Juan would either slap Sonia across the face or go after her with a belt. Marta often took over the beating that Juan meted out, ironically, to protect Sonia from a more severe beating from Juan. All the while she was beating Sonia, Marta would scream obscenities in Spanish. "¡Hija de la gran puta, desgraciada no sirves para nada!" ("Disgraceful daughter of a bitch, you're good for nothing!") Jazmin, Sonia's younger sister, now five, with a dark complexion and nappy hair, was not usually targeted, but sometimes Juan beat her as well.

When Sonia was six, her mother had given her extreme spankings with occasional slaps to the face and kicks to the body depending on how angry she was. Now that Sonia was eight, Marta introduced household objects into her repertoire of pain. Anything Sonia's mother could get her hands on became a whipping tool — belts, shoes, extension cords, brooms, even books. When she caught Sonia in a wide-open space of the house, such as the middle of the living room floor, she usually followed whipping her with a handy object with frenzied kicking. Every time Sonia heard Juan raise his voice she knew that violence was headed her way. She tried hiding in closets and under beds but her mother always found her, and when she did, the beatings were brutal. Even becoming pregnant with Juan's first child didn't stop Marta from going on violent tirades.

On Christmas Eve when Sonia was nine years old, Juan thought it would be funny to have Vivian, Sonia, and Jazmin compete for money and shots of rum via games of bingo. The winner received a dollar, and the losers had to drink a shot of rum. The game ended when Vivian became rowdy due to her drunkenness and started to lash out at Juan. In Spanish she called him a bastard and yelled that he wasn't her father, and worse. In between the shots, Juan would roll up a fifty-dollar bill and throw it on the floor in the middle of the room to see the girls fight over it. Whoever won the fight won the money.

Over the course of the evening the girls ended up drinking six to eight shots of rum each. Jazmin became sick and made it to the bathroom, and Vivian vomited all over the place. Sonia can't recall if she became ill, but she woke up Christmas Day with a headache so bad it felt like her head was going to explode. Sonia did not include this festive holiday activity in the "What I did over Christmas vacation" paper she wrote after the holiday break.

In May 1977 Sonia turned ten years old. She had no friends and spent more time questioning her existence than she did playing with dolls, jumping rope, or playing hopscotch like other little girls her age. Mostly she watched them play with their friends. She felt left out and unwanted. She was convinced she was born to suffer.

This same year several events took place that changed the dynamics in Sonia's home. First, a baby boy was born into the family, Bobby, born on the same day as her own birthday. His arrival brought peace and quiet for at least a couple of weeks. Juan was overjoyed about being a father and focused all his attention on the newborn. Unfortunately, his joy wore off rather quickly and again he centered his anger on the girls. He'd always grown angry over any little thing. Now he simply added a "You're making too much noise for the baby" accusation to his senseless and unprovoked tirades.

Second, relatives from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, moved into the house. The relatives were Sonia's Aunt Teresa (her mother's sister), Teresa's husband Jose, and their teenage son Nito. They were avid Pentecostal churchgoers. Sonia's uncle Jose had been very close to the pastor of their church in Pennsylvania, and it was rumored that they had a falling-out after Jose made a pass at the pastor's wife. Sonia's Aunt Teresa was a small, uneducated woman who lived solely to please every whim of her husband and son. She had long hair, which she often wore in a bun, and an uncanny way of being sweet, quiet, and innocently mannered when in the company of other adults but absolutely wicked and authoritarian when left to care for the children.

Sonia's Uncle Jose had a medium build, black hair, and a mustache. He had served in the navy as a cook but had also seen action in the Korean War. Jose was quick-witted and carried a Bible everywhere he went. A chain smoker and heavy drinker, he also carried a flask of rum in the inside pocket of his jacket. Despite being such an avid churchgoer, Jose was a womanizer who routinely purchased and toted around pornographic magazines. Sonia's cousin Nito was tall and heavyset, with very fair skin and light-colored hair. Nito was neither Teresa nor Jose's biological son, nor was he Puerto Rican. He was the son of former friends of Jose's who were white and who had given Nito up for adoption. This fact was kept secret from Nito.

When this family arrived from Lancaster, they needed a place to stay until Jose could find a job and they could find an apartment. The only family they had in Chicago was Marta, so arrangements were made for them to come stay. Jose and Teresa occupied Vivian's room, Nito slept on the sofa, and Vivian slept with Juan and her mother. Sonia didn't want these relatives in the house further complicating her life, but she felt relieved that at least she didn't have to change where she was sleeping to accommodate them. She already shared a room and a bed with Jazmin. They slept at opposite ends of the same bed, each with their feet by the other's face.

Sonia's nightmares about a man coming in through the window and touching her while she slept had ceased about a year before the family from Lancaster moved in. She was no longer sleepwalking either. One night a few months after her relatives moved into the house, Sonia felt the sheets being pulled away from her as she slept. She opened her eyes slightly and saw the silhouette of a man sitting on her side of the bed. At first she thought her nightmares had returned. She pulled the sheets back over herself and turned toward the wall, away from the dark figure. She blinked her eyes in order to wake up completely, just as she'd done before to get rid of a nightmare, but this time it didn't work. Sonia felt the sheets being pulled away from her a second time and began to panic. The next thing she felt was a hand forcing its way under the sheets and onto her leg. She felt her legs being groped by this unidentified hand as it moved up to her thigh. The hand then tried to get in between Sonia's thighs.

Sonia felt completely paralyzed, too terrified to move or scream. She was still certain she was having the worst nightmare of her life and that was why it felt so real. She began to feel as if she was suffocating. Finally tears began to pour out of her eyes and she began to shiver and whimper uncontrollably. Her shaking and the noise she made caused the hand to stop, and the person pulled away. Sonia felt movement at the edge of her bed as the person got up, and as she came out of her state of shock she heard footsteps and turned toward the door just in time to see the outline of a man exiting her room. Only then did she realize that what had happened was no nightmare. Someone had been in her room touching her, and it was a man, so it had to have been Juan, Jose, or Nito.

Throughout the next day Sonia was full of anxiety, knowing that eventually daylight would end and she'd have to go to bed. She was afraid to tell her mother, fearing she'd be accused of creating the story to focus attention away from her new baby brother. And, she reasoned, even if she did decide to tell Marta and her mother believed her, Sonia couldn't identify who had been in her room the previous night. She decided to keep the ordeal to herself and to stay awake all night to see if the man would return so she could figure out who it was. She was afraid but also looked forward to catching the man who was trying to touch her so she could tell her mother.

That night, Sonia lay on her back instead of on her side as usual. She wrapped the sheets tightly around her body to make it difficult for them to be easily pulled off. Sonia was afraid but determined to follow through with her plan. Hours passed and no one tried to enter her room. She began to think that she'd been dreaming the night before or that the man wouldn't repeat his visit. She tried desperately to stay awake but kept dozing off and then waking up suddenly. Eventually, her eyes closed despite her best efforts.

Sonia was asleep when the man returned and again sat on the edge of her bed. She immediately awoke but pretended to be asleep as she held the sheets tight against her and tried to make out who the man was without completely opening her eyes. The man tugged on the sheets, but when he found them too tightly wrapped to remove, he proceeded to touch Sonia through the sheets. As he began to grope between her legs, Sonia immediately opened her eyes, lifted her head, and came face-to-face with Uncle Jose.

"It's you," she said. "I'm telling Mom!"

No sooner had Sonia spoken her mother's name than Jose put his hand over her mouth and pushed her back down against the pillow.

"Callete" ("Shut up"), he said in an intimidating whisper so as not to wake up Jazmin.

When Sonia struggled, he threatened to kill her. Jose held his hand firmly against Sonia's mouth as he pulled down the sheets and groped one of her breasts. Sonia struggled violently. Jose needed to use both hands to keep her from getting away.

"Nunca voy a regresar pero te mato si dices algo" ("I'm never coming back but I'll kill you if you say something"), Jose threatened in the same menacing whisper. Then he released Sonia and hurried out of her room.

Sonia lay in bed fighting to catch her breath. She could still feel the pressure on her face from being held so tightly. She felt frightened and confused; out of the three men in the house, Jose was the one she'd suspected least. After all, he carried a Bible and commanded respect from everyone in the household. Sonia's mother saw Jose as a great man because he'd served in the navy, and she looked to him for advice. Sonia wrestled with these conflicting thoughts for the rest of the night, failing to fall back asleep. She would convince herself that telling her mother about Jose was the right thing to do but then would think about his threat to kill her. She eventually decided it wasn't a real threat. But what would happen if Sonia told her mother and she didn't believe her? Sonia eventually decided that even if her mother didn't believe her, telling on Jose would prevent him from repeating his abusive behavior.

The next day Sonia worried about when and how to approach Marta to tell her about what had happened. At the same time she needed to avoid her uncle, who would surely try to stop her from telling. That afternoon Sonia found Marta in the kitchen getting dinner started and asked for a minute of her time. Predictably, her mom responded in a rude, uncaring way. "¿Que quires?" ("What do you want?"), Sonia's mom yelled at her. Sonia began to cry, but between sobs she told her mother what had happened.

"¡Que!" ("What!"), Sonia's mother screamed as she turned to face her.

"¡Tio Jose me toco!" ("Uncle Jose touched me!"), Sonia yelled, still hysterically crying.

Sonia looked up at her mother, wanting to be held, soothed, protected, believed. She didn't care whether Uncle Jose was kicked out of the house. All she wanted was for her mother to embrace and protect her. Instead, a veil of anger cloaked Marta's face, and fear overcame Sonia. Marta cocked her arm and slapped Sonia so hard with the back of her hand that she flew across the room. Sonia crashed against the refrigerator and fell to the floor. Her mother quickly ran over to her, grabbed her by the hair, and continued to slap her face. Sonia cried and screamed at the top of her lungs. The commotion attracted the attention of the rest of the family, who hurried into the kitchen. To Sonia's surprise, Jose came to her defense. He grabbed Marta and set her down in a chair in the kitchen as he told her to stop beating Sonia.


Excerpted from Lady Q by Reymundo Sanchez, Sonia Rodriquez. Copyright © 2008 Reymundo Sanchez and Sonia Rodriguez. Excerpted by permission of Chicago Review Press Incorporated.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Prologue Reymundo Sanchez ix

1 Touch of Love 1

2 Damaged Goods 15

3 The Birth of a Rebel 21

4 Loss of Innocence 35

5 Lady Q Emerges 47

6 The Benefits of Royalty 71

7 The Queen of Talk 93

8 All in the Family 105

9 The Queen of Kings 119

10 Business Is Personal 139

11 The Price of Loyalty 159

12 Thy Kingdom Gone 181

13 Change but Still the Same 197

14 Moving On, Painfully 217

15 If I Should Die Before I Wake 233

16 Results of a Discarded Life 247

Epilogue Sonia Rodriguez 261

Afterword Reymundo Sanchez 267

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Lady Q 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 41 reviews.
MZYOSHI21 More than 1 year ago
mollyMF More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was brillant. Even if u never been in a gang. Iwas raised in chicago and used to go to humbolt park to watch my dad play baseball for a christian team. But never knew my surroundings and all the gang violence that occured at that time. I am grateful my parents kept me away from all that. but at the same time reading this book has unveiled my eyes to reality that still occurs in the city. I am no longer there but, i want to help now and want to find out how i can. I hope people from the city read this and hit reality like i have and in there own way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was not what I expected. Normally I don't usually read these types of books but I actually enjoyed reading this one. Her writing was raw and real which made you feel connected to the story. Also, her writing style is similiar to D. L. Blanco's novel, Single Latina Female which is a really good book, too.
Guest More than 1 year ago
To Everyone My first gangster crime book I have read is Dog the bounty hunter, and I wanted to read another one and I saw this one of Lady Q the rise and fall of a latin queen and oh boy this book was totally amazing, and I really enjoy reading it. I have read over 158 pages and I don't want to stop until I get to the end of this book. I do enjoy reading about people life, even I have read about Eric Bischoff life and Dog the bounty hunter life and, next is Sonia RodRiguez. This is an excellent book and I also heard that Reymundo Sanchez wrote this book. I have never read his book and yes I am going to put him next to my list after I finish reading Lady Q. I wish that I can really meet these people in real life. I only know small culture of gang stuff. But never like this way. But now I am learning it, and trust me being in a gang is not good because crime wave. But what is good is this book and that what count and thanks for reading and talk to you soon everyone!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved the book. I love books that are about real life. How people have gone through a very rough childhood and what they have become now. Sonia is a very strong latina. She may have made some very bad decisions, but to go through all that she still stand strong shows how brave she is. It's amazing. I would recommend this to anyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a shocking account of a females time as a Latin Queen, and her rise through the ranks to become the queen of all queens. This brutally honest book portrays the authors true feelings in events such as living in her volatile home to raising her daughter in the number one come-to house for drugs.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read all of Reymundo's books and love them all. His first two were written in first person making it much easier to truly connect with him. In Sonia's story, it is written in third person-making more difficult to connect with her throughout the novel. This is still a great story. Reymundo's books are some of the only books I had to try to keep myself from reading in a day. They are that good. Everyone should be enlightened on these topics. Especially people with any political power. -MMP
Destiny_Flores More than 1 year ago
LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! Definitely a story about gang violence. This book showed me that life isn't always easy. I've never been in a gang but this book showed me what goes on in one. If you read this and you're not in a gang, you'll know you don't want to be in one. If you read this and you're in a gang, you'll want to get out. The things that happen to Lady Q are crazy and it made me thankful for the life that I have now. Thinking that all of these murders and crimes go on when we're not paying attention is crazy. Lady Q has a story to tell in this book that will make anyone think about the things that go on in our world. -Destiny
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
lady q is a great book. it shows the gang life through a female perspective. its about a girl who was abused when she was younger but a straight A student at school. she ended up dropping out because she was being bullied by rivals to the Kings at school. she started getting high and drinking. she liked the feeling and joined the gang. she dated one of the most notorious and powerful kings and became lknown as the "queen of Kings". whatever she said or asked for was done with no questions. when she figured out what the gang life was about she dropped out of the gang and was lucky enough to be left alone. this is deffinantely a page turner and a must read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It gave me a deep insight into the world i didnt knis about
Guest More than 1 year ago
Lady Q was one of the baddest in the business and this shows a side to her i never thought existed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is such an amazing book. The things that "Lady Q" had to deal with as a child and as she grew older could not be wished apon anyone. This is a must read book! Other books by Reymundo Sanchez are just a amazing.
Jocelynpdrz More than 1 year ago
Its pretty interesting to read about gang life through a females eyes. This book was really good. I believe it would have been better if Sonia Rodriguez (Lady Q) had written it herself though. I do recommend this though.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this is by-far the best book ive ever read! it really tells the female side from a gang. i can relate to some of what the main character (Sonia) has gone through for her gang. But anywaaaaaaaaaays... RECOMMENDED!!!!!!!! its really good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't know that I would give it 5 starts, but definately worth the read.
chucky_213 More than 1 year ago




i cant figure how to do that thingy at the bootm about reconmending but i recomend

Guest More than 1 year ago
This was definitely a great book. It is so sad to see how the street life can make AND break you. I definitely encourage everyone to read this book.
alicat21 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Story of a female gang member, how she became 'Lady Q', interesting...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ilove thhe book all of them ..
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