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Gringolandia

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3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  112 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Daniel’s papá, Marcelo, used to play soccer, dance the cueca, and drive his kids to school in a beat-up green taxi—all while publishing an underground newspaper that exposed Chile’s military regime.After papá’s arrest in 1980, Daniel’s family fled to the United States. Now Daniel has a new life, playing guitar in a rock band and dating Courtney, a minister’s daughter. He h ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 1st 2009 by Curbstone Books
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2010 ALA Best Books for Young Adults
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 347)
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April
Imagine waking up to soldiers in the middle of the night. Your father is dragged off and you don't know if you will ever see him again. A few years down the line, you have perfectly adjusted to a new life, when you find out your father is released from the prison he was placed in. If these things happen to you, chances are you are a character named Daniel in a book called Gringolandia.

Gringolandia takes place during the magical 80s. Turns out, 80s wasn't all great tv, movies and music. Actual th
...more
Teresa Scherping
I liked this book but didn't love it. I really liked that it tackled the issue of the 1973 military coup in Chile because it's an event I knew almost nothing about before I studied abroad in college. However I'm not sure this complex and controversial topic can be properly dealt with by a gringa (and I say that as a fellow gringa with an interest in Chile). I wasn't sure about the authenticity of some parts, and I think I'd rather read something similar written by a chilen@.
Alicia
Telling the story of the Chilean coupe through the teenager, Daniel, was a daring way to be able to share history with teens who may not enjoy learning about history or other country's political tests, but this is both a great historical fiction addition along with the story of family relationships, captivity, and fighting for what's right.

Daniel wants nothing more than a father, who was taken away from him at a young age, held and tortured, when he's returned, though to the United States where
...more
English Education
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Maggie Desmond-O'Brien
This book. Is. Amazing! Subtle character development, dialogue peppered with chileno slang and a powerful, moving plot makes for a book that plays like an indie movie on a screen for me. Like Rabbit-Proof Fence and other stories of politics at less than their best, Gringolandia blends the microcosm and the macrocosm, Dan's story with Chile's; with short, gritty description and a beautiful ending.

Like said indie movies, though, I can't see it getting the readers it deserves. First of all, it fits
...more
Danna
I read this book on my father's rave recommendation, but have to admit, I was not impressed. Gringolandia is a YA book that delves into Santiago, Chile's political unrest during the 1980s. The book takes place mostly in Wisconsin, where a family of Chilean immigrants has found refuge. The story is told by the family's 16-year-old son.
I found the writer's style juvenile - and I don't mean because it's YA. I was bored with the story almost from the beginning and felt like it was a bit of a chore
...more
Ari
I love that this novel deals with the aftereffects of torture, not just on the victim, but on the victim's family. Daniel's father is hurt and he's determined to hurt those that he's loved. He's rude and spiteful to his wife, Daniel and Tina. I love Tina and I'm excited for the sequel told from her point of view. She's smart but there's definitely a lot more to her. She's twelve and barely remembers her father. She doesn't know what to make of her father in this changed state and she spends most ...more
Terry
What a good book. The turmoil and torture of Chile during the Pinochet regime might not seem like an ideal terrain for an American YA title, yet Miller-Lachmann takes this chapter of history down to the scale of individuals: Daniel, a Chilean exile and guitar-playing high school student, Courtney, the politically conscious American girlfriend , Daniel's tortured and possibly broken father. None of these characters is as stereotypical as my short description, and by the end of the book, I felt a ...more
Melissa (YA Book Shelf)
Imagine being a young Chilean boy and seeing your father dragged away at gun point by soldiers. Imagine what happens to the 32 year old father while he's one of "the disappeared." Imagine being the American girlfriend of the same boy, years later, when his father is released from prison and forced to rejoin his family as a broken man.

Gringolandia by Lyn Miller-Lachmann is a powerful novel that shifts between the perspectives of the three people mentioned above. It takes place between 1980 when
...more
Cornmaven
This book is not for everyone, but I would recommend it for HS students in political science, journalism or psych classes to be sure. The story revolves around a family impacted by the CIA imposed Pinochet regime in the 80s in Chile, exposing the violence and torture that the regime used against its own people. It is told in 3 voices, the journalist jailed for trying to expose the truth, his son, and his son's girlfriend. The son, mother, and sister have fled to America. The journalist is releas ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Allison Fraclose for TeensReadToo.com

On October 23, 1980, 12-year-old Daniel Aguilar awoke to a crash and his mother's screams from the living room of his family's apartment in Santiago, Chile. When the young boy got out of bed, soldiers held a gun to his head until his mother told them where his father was hiding.

For this reason, Daniel always blamed himself for his father's arrest. If not for him, then Marcelo Aguilar, AKA "Nino" and writer for the underground newspaper Justicia, w
...more
Katrina
Gringolandia isn’t a story easily forgotten, and it shouldn’t be. As an adult with a Master’s degree in Latin American Studies, the practice of torturing and disappearing political dissidents as a means of social control during violent dictatorships wasn’t new to me. Yet I was still gripped by the novel, finding myself thinking about it days after I’d finished it. For young adult readers I think Gringolandia would be an incredibly powerful and moving book. Not only does it give voice to a histor ...more
Myles Parslow
The inside cover made this book seem intriguing, but after the first thirty or so pages it became a labor to even finish some of the poorly though out sentences. The only reason that I finished this book is because I knew that I didn't have to give it a much undeserved good review. The concept of a father returning from years of torture under an oppressive regime in Chile could be fantastic if executed correctly, especially the reactions of the family that he is returning to. But what should be ...more
Steph Su
GRINGOLANDIA is an important tale of the emotional trauma that resulted from the unstable Chilean government of the 1980s, but it will be hard-pressed to find the right audience for itself. This book is an important but not necessarily easy or sympathetic read.

I know little about Chilean 20th-century history, and GRINGOLANDIA was a different but effective way of introducing me to it. Instead of in-the-moment scenes of horror, we mostly see its emotional aftermath, the way it both physically and
...more
Audrey F
I was very interested in the premise of Gringolandia, by Lyn Miller-Lachmann. The synopsis drew me in, and I was excited to begin reading. This book did not completely live up to my expectations. However, there were still many things done well in Gringolandia.

This novel is a historical fiction following teenager Daniel, a Chilean by birth living with his mother and sister in the United States in the 80s. His world is turned upside down when his father, an ex-freedom fighter, is released from Chi
...more
Lawral
Gringolandia opens with an Author's Note explaining the very real circumstances and events in Chile that lead up to what is experienced by the fictional characters in the book. A short bibliography for further reading is also provided. Usually this kind of thing goes at the end of the story when readers are more likely to be interested in picking up 4-5 books on the topic. I thought it was a weird choice to put the note and bibliography at the beginning...until I started reading. Miller-Lachmann ...more
Claire
Aug 14, 2009 Claire rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: highly recommended to adults and high school students
Lyn Miller-Lachmann kicks the novel off with an extremely succinct narrative of Chile's modern political turmoil, an essential backdrop to the story.
In 1980, Marcelo, a freedom fighter in Chile is arrested, imprisoned and tortured. His wife and their children, Dan and Tina have escaped to Madison, Wisconsin where they work tirelessly for Marcelo's release. In 1986 the family is reunited. The kids are shocked, 6 years of torture have decimated their father who is terribly injured, body and soul.
...more
Erica
Lyn Miller-Lachmann writes a heartfelt story with Gringolandia. It is completely honest and gripping. It follows the story of a family who was a victim of the political situation in Chile in the 80s. Gringolandia really brings a new light to readers. Part of what is so intriguing about Gringolandia is that while politics are a major piece in the story, they aren't overpowering in the story. Gringolandia focuses more on how politics can tear a family apart, and that in itself is really something. ...more
Christine Crawford
This story takes place during the political unrest in Chile in the 1980's, although most of it takes place in the U.S., where the family in the story has relocated. The main character in this book reunites with his father, who has been held and tortured in Chile for 6 years. I like how this story is both about Daniel (the son) and his life and growth, but also has a larger context of the political upheaval in Chile. The characters are believable and I found some parts downright hard to read. The ...more
Andra Watkins
I was intrigued by Gringolandia when I read about it on a fellow writer's site. I'm so glad I made time to read it. I know so little about Chile during the time of Pinochet. This story gave me insight into the atrocities some people are forced to endure. It made me grateful for the life I have. I recommend this story to anyone. You'll read it and be thankful for what you've been given.
Annie Laurie (WI)
Loved it! Read it for a book group during the school year. Most participants were school district librarians, so I learned a lot. I found myself wondering, "Were books like this available with I was in high school?" I don't think so, because I was a book worm and don't remember ever finding any historical fiction type books about kids my age dealing with things like the characters in this book had to deal with.

I was also curious about the author. Her description of Madison, WI, is right on, so
...more
Bronwyn
This is SUCH an awesome book (though I admit that I'm a tad biased, considering it's subject matter is something very close to my heart--Pinochet's dictatorship in Chile). But ignoring my previous positive bias, this is an excellent (and educational-you learn about the history of Chile before and after the dictatorship) read that draws you in, like all good books should. If I had any criticism, the only thing I'd say is that the voice of the main character Daniel didn't seem like a teenage boy a ...more
Kathryn Bashaar
This book has a political background in 1980s Chile, but takes place mostly in the United States and is essentially a family story. It follows the family of a Chilean freedom fighter when he is released from prison and joins them in the United States, focusing especially on the relationship between the father and son. It is touchingly honest about the price that Marcelo and his family pay for his political activities, very heartbreaking at points. The political situation in Chile during the 80s ...more
Lisa Potocar
Lyn Miller-Lachmann's sweeping, swiftly-moving, and emotional story, told through the eyes of young adults and woven around the days of brutality and suppression in Chile, when it was a police state under Pinochet (1973-1990), marks this work a compelling historical read---as both a supplement to classroom teaching about the intertwining of North and South American histories and as a stark lesson to our young about the dire consequences of extremist views. This story has tremendous adult appeal!
Angelene Hanna
I love books that make me want to know more about the parts of history I am ignorant of, and Miller-Lachman's Gringolandia is a perfect example. I know the names Pinochet and Allende, and I know Chile committed notorious human rights abuses. However, I didn't know the details of the conflict, the CIA's role, or Chilean slang. It's a tough read, but well worth it.
Colin
This was an intense book. I appreciate that it tackles politics, history, trauma and healing, and its aimed toward a young adult audience. There could have been a better examination of race--what was there seemed really pat and surface-level. Ironically, since the book is called "Gringolandia." But definitely worth a read. 3.5 stars.
Sarah Mae
This is very real look at the exiles and disappeared during the aftermath of Pinochet's CIA backed coup in Chile. Daniel, his sister and his mom have been living in the US while his father has been in prison in Chile. When he is released, no one is ready to deal with the person he has become.
Sarah K.
I liked the book. It took me a while to get into it but Once I was about half way through it I started really enjoying it, it just felt like it took a while to get into the storyline. The writing was OK not great, but not bad either.
Carol Morison
Awesome. We really do take for granted all the freedoms we have in this country. I learned a lot about Chile and Pinochet without seeming to learn it - a great story.
Karl
Decent, but flawed. It's supposed to be set in the mid-80s, but there are 2-3 serious anachronisms: things that could only happen a decade or two later.
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I've practiced writing ever since I was six years and invented an entire classroom of 24 kids who wanted to be my friends. The following year, my mother gave me a typewriter, and I started putting my stories on paper. It was my way of creating a world where everything worked out the way I wanted it to.

When I became a high school teacher, I started collecting my students’ stories, and I incorporate
...more
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