Laurence Ralph’s New Book, Sito: An American Teenager and the City that Failed Him

Feb. 15, 2024

Laurence Ralph’s new book, Sito: An American Teenager and the City that Failed Him (Grand Central Publishing, Hachette Book Group), a deeply personal story of violence, grief, and the American justice system, explores the systemic issues that perpetuate gang participation in one of the wealthiest cities in the country, through the story of one teenager. 

Ralph (Professor of Anthropology, Co-Director of the Center on Transnational Policing) will discuss his new book in his upcoming book events, including a discussion at Labyrinth Books on April 9th, 6pm.

In September of 2019, Luis Alberto Quiñonez—known as Sito—was shot to death as he sat in his car in the Mission District of San Francisco. He was nineteen. His killer, Julius Williams, was seventeen. It was the second time the teens had encountered one another. The first, five years before, also ended in tragedy, when Julius watched as his brother was stabbed to death by an acquaintance of Sito’s. The two murders merited a few local news stories, and then the rest of the world moved on.

But for the families of the slain teenagers, it was impossible to move on. And for Laurence Ralph, the stepfather of Sito’s half-brother who had dedicated much of his academic career to studying gang-affiliated youth, Sito’s murder forced him to revisit a subject of scholarly inquiry in a profoundly different, deeply personal way.
Written from Ralph's perspective as both a person enmeshed in Sito's family and as an Ivy League professor and expert on the entanglement of class and violence, SITO is an intimate story with an message about the lived experience of urban danger, and about anger, fear, grief, vengeance, and ultimately grace.


Sito book tour schedule