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Surviving Santiago

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Returning to her homeland of Santiago, Chile, is the last thing that Tina Aguilar wants to do during the summer of her sixteenth birthday. It has taken eight years for her to feel comfort and security in America with her mother and her new husband. And it has been eight years since she has last seen her father.

Despite insisting on the visit, Tina's father spends all his time focused on politics and alcohol rather than connecting with Tina, making his betrayal from the past continue into the present. Tina attracts the attention of a mysterious stranger, but the hairpin turns he takes her on may push her over the edge of truth and discovery.

The tense, final months of the Pinochet regime in 1989 provide the backdrop for author Lyn Miller-Lachmann's suspenseful tale of the survival and redemption of the Aguilar family, first introduced in the critically acclaimed Gringolandia.

CCSS-aligned curriculum guidecan be found online at http://www.rpcurriculumguides.com/cur...

320 pages, Hardcover

First published June 2, 2015

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About the author

Lyn Miller-Lachmann

20 books45 followers
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 incorporated these into my first efforts to write for others. I taught English to refugees from Latin America and organized concerts of Latin American music, and the people I met inspired and encouraged me to write the novel that years later would become Gringolandia. After Gringolandia came out in 2009, I enrolled in the MFA program in Writing for Children & Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts and there gained the confidence to write the story I’d been avoiding or skirting for my life up to that point—growing up with Asperger’s Syndrome, a mild form of autism that made it so hard for me to make and keep friends. My 2013 novel, Rogue, is based on two incidents that happened to me as a teenager.

In addition to my published fiction for preteens and teens, I have complete drafts of two young adult novels, one of them a companion to Gringolandia, and am writing a middle grade novel. I am also working on a graphic novel featuring a Lego town I’ve built, Little Brick Township, and the minifigures who live there and/or visit. The stuff that happens in Little Brick Township sometimes appears on my blog, along with tips for other Lego builders. While I occasionally offer writing advice, my blog mainly features my other interests, including the experience of living abroad and learning another language (I spent the last four months of 2012 in Portugal and hope to return), my work as assistant host of a bilingual radio show of Latin American, Spanish, and Portuguese music, and what’s new in Little Brick Township.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 18 of 18 reviews
Profile Image for Fatima Shaik.
Author 7 books31 followers
September 7, 2015
Surviving Santiago takes the story of a 16-year-old’s love affair and sets it within the dangerous political landscape of the last months of the Pinochet military dictatorship in Chile. It a measured, quietly-paced plot woven through tumultuous events.

The protagonist is the daughter of an anti-Pinochet activist who reports political misconduct at his radio station and still struggles with the personal demons of an earlier imprisonment. Cristina is Chilean-born but Wisconsin-raised. A young feminist, she finds the summer months of the book’s timeline full of romance, adventure, and challenge among the damp, winter-tropics of her father’s home.

Author Lyn Miller-Lachmann gives a complete visual portrait of the city of Santiago, which Cristina (aka Tina) explores on the back of a motorcycle and also under her aunt’s tutelage. The book contrasts and compares this city and its people to the kind but slightly clueless gringos of Madison. Tina’s mother has remarried; her friends smoke marijuana and watch old tv reruns; life is pastel-colored and emotionally safe. It is far more benign than the South American neighborhoods that envelope the main character, and eventually, the readers. (Running Press Teens 2015)
Profile Image for Nicole (Reading Books With Coffee).
1,399 reviews34 followers
May 30, 2016
I'm not sure what to think about Surviving Santiago! I wanted to like it, and parts of it were interesting, but I had a hard time getting into it.

I didn't like Tina's dad at all. I didn't get why he wanted to see her, when he's always off working or drinking. For someone who would only divorce his wife if he could see his daughter, he didn't seem to care (at all) about spending time with her, and it didn't make sense, especially since it's been almost a decade since they've seen each other.

And even though it takes place during the last months of the Pinochet regime and all of these things are happening, I felt like we were told what was happening, instead of seeing it. I know Tina visiting Chile from the U.S., and she's naive and not at all aware of what's going on in Chile, but I wish we saw, through her eyes, what was going on. Well, more of what was going on, because we do get a glimpse towards the end of the book. Which wasn't really enough for me.

She seemed selfish at times (more than I would have expected) and she seemed to care more about the boy and listening to Metallica and smoking weed than anything else, and the relationship that she does have with her dad at the end of the book...it didn't work for me. Her actions did change their relationship, but it also put them in a lot of danger. Granted, her dad's work probably put him in danger, but her actions definitely made it worse.

Overall, it felt like something was missing. I admit that I know nothing about Pinochet- I just recognize the name, so for me, the things her dad went through, and everything that happened with Frankie...I think I needed more of what his regime was actually like. It seemed like she drew on her previous book, which is fine, but maybe I should have started off with that one before reading this one, just to have that context.

Still, I liked the author's note at the end, and I liked that she had a few recommended titles to read. I felt like that's something you don't see a lot in YA. And I do like that we see the beginning of the end, because it could have very easily been during his regime.

My Rating: 2 stars. I do like what Surviving Santiago deals with, and I wanted more context for what was going on in the book, because I didn't fully understand some of the more political stuff going. I'd still recommend it, though, because it is about something that people might not be familiar with.
Profile Image for Suzanne.
Author 27 books252 followers
January 22, 2016
Lyn Miller-Lachmann's follow-up to GRINGOLANDIA is a gritty not-just-for-teens political thriller set in the last days of Pinochet's dictatorship in Chile.

Fifteen-year-old Tina travels to Chile to spend the summer with her dad while her mom is away on her honeymoon with her new husband. The dad that she remembers is gone. The dad that she now has is more interested in exposing goverment corruption than spending time with his daughter in spite of the beating while under interrogation that left him disabled. He's also on the verge of drinking himself to death.

To pass the time, Tina starts hanging out with a gorgeous guy who works for a delivery service. She thinks she's falling in love, but then she discovers that this guy, Frankie, may be lying to her. Ultimately, Tina gets caught up in the political intrigue that obsesses and endangers her father. Soon, both of the men that she loves are in danger of losing their lives.

The author traveled to Chile to do research for this novel. Thanks to her firsthand knowledge, and interviews with victims of torture, SURVIVING SANTIAGO is filled with authentic details. The book also introduces diversity in a variety of ways. This is a well-written and unusual story with plenty of action.
Profile Image for Martha Schwalbe.
960 reviews8 followers
February 16, 2017
Given the the title, I wanted to love this book. It was okay.
The plot moved and the basic idea had potential.
My disappointment in the book was that I never really felt like I left Wisconsin and I didn't get to know the characters very well. While the story was supposed to take place in Chile and the characters were Chilean, as a white, American, I never felt that another part of the world was being revealed to me (one of my main reasons for reading).
The aunt, Ileana, is an architect but we never get to see her work or visit her buildings, although several references are made, that we might. Entering and leaving any of the buildings is the same as I might enter and leave mine.
Historically, the reader doesn't learn much about the revolution either.
I guess I would recommend this book to readers who like gone-bad romances. It's not on my top-ten for NYRA.
Profile Image for Ricki.
Author 2 books101 followers
November 16, 2015
Surviving Santiago tells the story of a Tina Aguilar who is forced to live for a summer with her alcoholic, politically active father in Santiago, Chile. The 1989 dangerous Pinochet regime provides a harrowing setting for this text. The narrative unfolds right along with the political backdrop. Lyn tackles complex themes that will connect with all readers: family, love, honor, loyalty and self-discovery.
Profile Image for Brittany.
154 reviews2 followers
May 13, 2018
Things I liked about this book: all the Chilean slang, the familiar setting of Santiago, and more insight into Chile nearing the end of Pinochet.
Things I didn't like about this book: the stress it gave me over the frequent poor decisions of the protagonist!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for JennRenee.
387 reviews69 followers
January 30, 2016

This book wasn't on my radar at all until I was contacted bu the publisher. This book was a nice little surprise for me. I was pleasantly surprised by this read. It was good. A great story that had a bit of romance and suspense and a bunch of family drama and some good world history.

Tina is from Santiago and has lived in the states for a few years now well about 8 years I think. Santiago has been under a dictatorship for quite some time and her father used to work underground in a rebellion. He was captured tortured and set free and began to drink. Now Tina's parents are living in separate countries. Tina's mother is getting married. The condition of the divorce so she could get married... send Tina to Santiago for a summer visit. So this is where are story begins. Tina goes to Santiago.. her father is an alcoholic and a workaholic. She is left to her own thoughts or with her aunt most of the visit. She meets Frankie a cute boy that drives a motorcycle and has lots of secrets. Secrets that are deadly. Tina finds herself mixed up in stuff that could hurt her and her family and in love. This leads her to figure out where her loyalties really lie.

It was good. Really good. I was really into this story. I think it had a bit over everything and I enjoyed all the little parts that made the whole. The story was pretty well paced and I felt very entertained while reading the book. I also learned some.

The story behind the story was interesting. I really knew nothing about Santiago and so when I agreed to read the book for a review, I googled Santiago and Pinochet and learned just a few facts that set me in the right area for the read. The book really brought some of those things to life for me. Without overwhelming me with details, I got a good look inside the country of Santiago during the Pinochet rule. Well actually the end of it, but there was still enough there to give me a sense of hatred for this dictator. It was a good little history lesson and a really good historical novel.

The romance was sweet in this book, although a bit rushed and the entire time I knew something wasn't right I still felt wrapped up in Tina's love story. I didn't really connect with Frankie throughout the story but I did connect with Tina so I was into the romance for her.

Tina was a pretty real character for me. She made dumb decisions, she felt extreme in her emotions, she was a bit careless and didn't think things through. So really she was like a real 15 year old. I connected with her fast and really felt for her. She has had a hard life and just when things seemed normal to her she was shipped off to see a father she hasn't seen for years. She gets to Santiago and tries to make the best of it but her father just isn't into anything but drinking and working. So during the day she is left to her own devices and then in the evening when her father comes home, she ends up spending her time listening to his drunken rants and taking care of him. Still she does her best to build the relationship.

The story behind the romance was quite good, ineteresting and suspenseful. Like I said, from the beginning I knew Frankie wasn't all candy and sunshine. Something was off. When it was time to reveal what I was a bit surprised and angry and for just a bit I was thrown into some good suspense thrilling stuff. A nice break from the oh so sweet and gushy romance.

The ending was wrapped up a bit too nicely for me but it still gave me a smile and warm fuzzies inside. It was too good for real life but worked well for a happy ending in a story.

It was a good solid read that kept me entertained and happy from beginning to end.
Profile Image for Ed.
227 reviews12 followers
June 10, 2015
Surviving Santiago
by Lyn Miller-Lachmann
Running Press-978-0-7624-5633-8

Many moons ago Gringolandia by Lyn Miller-Lachmann showed up in my queue. This story of how an ordinary family deals with the extraordinary evil inflicted by the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile remains with me. I always wondered about Christina (Tina) and now I have my answer!

I should immediately reassure readers that this book stands alone. It is not necessary to read Gringolandia to appreciate this story. That said, I do recommend reading both.

In Gringolandia a journalist, Marcelo, is jailed, beaten, and tortured. His family is relocated to Wisconsin and after they are settled in, Marcelo joins them. Wisconsin, however, seems very much like some twisted Disneyland to Marcelo and his family. Marcelo spends his time alternating between trying to drink himself to death and desperately trying to express his rage to an often apathetic public.

In Surviving Santiago, we move from Wisconsin back to Chile. Tina is visiting her father, now divorced from her mother, in Chile. We are still very much in the Pinochet regime, despite some significant political and social changes just before this dictatorship dissolved. Marcelo (or Papá) is back in Santiago reporting the news again on a popular radio program. He has a team of people watching out for him, as much because of the harm he may bring to himself as the harm possible from Pinochet sympathizers. Papá is obsessively driven—or drunk—to the point that Tina counts the days until she returns home and wonders why her father even wanted her to visit.

The teen interest arrives riding a motorcycle! While plenty of teens care deeply about injustices, history, and events like the overthrow of Salvador Allende, this does not exclude them from affairs of the heart. Miller-Lachmann deftly uses Frankie as a foil to insert political, social, and historical detail. The layered narration allows readers to understand a bigger picture than Tina does herself. We find ourselves ripping through the pages in constant conversation with Tina trying to alert her to the full scope of the situation—before it is too late.

I appreciate the many small details of this novel: the damaged parrots, the GLBT threads (that help show a bigger picture of both love and the ways we harm others), the music, the love of language, and more. In the end, this is a book about refusing to give up on family, regardless of the horrors heaped upon us and the blinding pain. The success of Surviving Santiago is that it refuses to remember Tina and her family as victims. We end this fine book with potential, with a future, just like the people of Chile or any country.
Profile Image for Rich in Color.
488 reviews86 followers
March 16, 2016
Review copy: ARC via publisher

Tina is conflicted about living with her father. She remembers her papá from childhood. That papá loved his family and spent time with them. He drove his children to school and played with them at the beach. The father she has come to stay with in Santiago is a very different man. Tina knows that his imprisonment and torture caused these deep changes in him, but still, she yearns for that papá from years ago. She resents having to leave her friends and home to come stay with this cold man who doesn’t even know her age and is either working or drunk most of the day. This visit is a chance to heal their relationship, but though he asked her to come, her father doesn’t seem to be making much of an effort.

I enjoyed the first book, Gringolandia, because it gave me a look into the history of Chile. Historical fiction in young adult literature is frequently set during wars or political upheaval, but it’s not often that we see the history of South American countries. It’s not necessary to read Gringolandia to understand and appreciate this sequel/companion, but it would provide a little more background so it’s probably advisable. Both books include history and political intrigue. Gringolandia shows readers what it is like to be an exile, while Surviving Santiago is about Tina coming back to her home country. This might be part of the reason that I found this book lighter. There are certainly plenty of difficulties and danger is lurking, but Tina is on a mission of restoring connections to both family and country. She starts out counting the days until she can get back to the U.S., but she has hope that things will change.

Because Tina’s father is working most of the time, Tina has to fill her days with something or someone. An attractive young man does catch her eye. She doesn’t always make the safest choices in this relationship, but that’s part of why this book works. She’s moving forward in spite of missteps here and there. I found myself cheering for Tina. She speaks her mind on many issues and she’s learning about herself and what she is willing to fight for.

Recommendation: Historical fiction fans should definitely get it soon. Gringolandia was great, but I liked Surviving Santiago even more. Tina is a girl who loves deeply and will not give up on people easily. Readers will enjoy getting to know her while learning a bit about the past.
Profile Image for Barbara.
13k reviews268 followers
February 29, 2016
Fans of its predecessor, Gringolandia, will surely find this follow-up novel, set in 1989, equally compelling. Sixteen-year-old Christina Aguilar hasn't seen her father in eight years, years that have been spent healing from the wounds of an oppressive regime in Chile and embracing the American way of life. While her mother and her new husband leave for a honeymoon, Tina spends the summer with her father in Santiago. Although she looks forward to reconnecting with him, she also dreads their reunion because of his drinking and the violence he displayed during the last time she saw him in Madison, Wisconsin. Having been tortured and imprisoned for his radio program and outspoken opposition to the Pinochet regime, Nino (as her father is called) continues his work with the underground while falling further under the influence of alcohol and suffering from PTSD. When her father basically ignores her upon her arrival, throwing himself into his important work, Tina gets involved with Frankie, an older boy who lavishes much attention on her. But he has plenty of secrets, which make Tina wonder how trustworthy he actually is. Readers will find themselves quickly swept up in this story about how painful--and how restorative--love can be and the impossibility of loving or forgiving someone else until you can love and forgive yourself. Amid the tumultuous political climate in which Tina finds herself, she often behaves naively but in a way with which most teens will relate. There are many layers to explore through this novel--the ravages of torture and alcohol, the imperfections and prejudices of heroes [Nino, for instance, makes several denigrating remarks about his sister Ileana because she is a lesbian.], and what one man has sacrificed for his country and freedom at the cost of losing his family. As did Gringolandia, the book covers territory not frequently explored in books for teens today, and while the ill-fated romance might seem unlikely to older readers, teens will certainly relate to the connections between Frankie and Tina. My heart ached for every one of these characters as I kept turning the pages in hope of a somewhat happy ending. I was also particularly impressed with how careful the author was in portraying her characters; even the men who supported Nino and protected him from assassins were not necessarily appealing or possessing pure motives, which adds to the book's complexity. So it is with life and much of politics.
Profile Image for Sarah-Hope.
1,049 reviews86 followers
June 2, 2015
When I began reading Lyn Miller-Lachmann’s Surviving Santiago, I hadn’t realized it drew on her earlier work Gringolandia (which I haven’t yet read, but which I purchased immediately after finishing Surviving Santiago). The central character, Tina Aguilar, is a rather naive sixteen-year-old, spending the summer in Santiago, Chile, with her activist father, who she hasn’t seen since her parents separated.

The novel is set after the plebiscite that ended Pinochet’s rule in Chile, but before he has left office. Tina’s father, who was imprisoned and tortured during the Pinochet regime, and who is still closely watched by Pinochet’s government, is the host of a popular, liberal radio program. He has insisted upon Tina spending the summer with him, but seems to be going to great lengths to avoid spending any time with her. Instead, Tina is left to be looked over by her paternal aunt Ileana (who, interestingly, is a very closeted lesbian) and spends increasing amounts of time with Frankie, a young man she’s met in her wanderings around the city.

As I said, Tina is naive—unaware of the dangers of careless speech or action in the waning days of the dictatorship. What follows can perhaps be anticipated, but is moving nonetheless. Tina inadvertently puts her father’s and her own life in danger and, in the process of saving them both, builds a new relationship with him.

Surviving Santiago is a solid young adult novel, balancing family, romance, and crisis in unexpected ways. To most young adult readers, Chile’s Pinochet regime isn’t even a bit of fog in the distant past—it’s completely unknown. For that reason, I particularly appreciate the deftness with which Miller-Lachmann provides the historical context that many U.S. readers will need. The recent history of Chile unfolds over the course of the novel, laid out clearly, but not in a way that interrupts the narrative. Surviving Santiago’s blend of entertainment and history is an enjoyable and welcome addition to recent young adult literature.
Profile Image for Yaaresse.
2,012 reviews16 followers
April 13, 2018
As an adult reader, I'd give this book 3 or 3.5 stars. I think if I were in high school, I'd rate it 4 stars. Because that is the audience the book is intended for, we're going with the higher rating.

I thought the setting and time for the book were unusual for a YA audience. It's not really far enough in the past to be "historical" fiction, but it is set before the intended audience was born. The story takes place in Chile at the end of the Pinochet regime, but with a protagonist who is far more American than Chilean. I'm not sure whether the target reader would be familiar enough with the history of Pinochet's reign to appreciate all the problems that come with living in that time and place or not. To me it was a plus; to a 16-20 y.o., it might be a "meh."

The plot was fairly predictable. I figured out what Tina's "boyfriend" was all about by the end of their first date, so there were no real surprises there. Still, I remember (barely) being 16 and liking my plots uncomplicated and dependable at that age. What us old bats find annoyingly predictable seems comforting at that age. I had a similar reaction to the so-called romance part of the story: as an adult reader, I found it unrealistic and contrived, but probably would have accepted it completely at 16-17. That's not to say all teens are unsophisticated readers, but I do think they tend to appreciate sameness in their reading more than older readers. (Thus the popularity of so many series, fanfics, and clone stories.)

The real meat of this book is about coming of age, beginning to understand the world at large and how flawed/damaged people can be by things beyond their control. In those things, the book shines.

Profile Image for Laurie.
Author 5 books92 followers
June 21, 2015
In this powerful, unusual book set in 1989 during the end of the Pinochet regime, Tina returns to Santiago, Chile to spend the summer with her complicated, politically subversive, alcoholic father. Lyn Miller-Lachmann manages to balance suspense and danger with romance, family dynamics, and self-discovery in this beautiful novel. I loved learning about 1989 Santiago and watching Tina navigate her relationships with her father and the mysterious boy she meets. This novel features some of the same characters as GRINGOLANDIA but completely stands on its own. It's an impressive book--I loved it!
Profile Image for Ashley.
636 reviews
August 18, 2015
3.5 stars: I appreciated the political aspects of this story and the reminder that just because the fighting has stopped, does not mean that the war is over. The protagonist was a bit too selfish/wishy-washy for me and a little too interested in scoring/smoking weed as much as she could. I also am not a huge believer in love at first sight so the for that reason the "love" story was a bit much for me (let's call it a "lust" story instead.)
4 reviews
April 4, 2016
Surviving Santiago is a great book. I personally liked this book a lot. How a bad vacation turns around to a "romantic" vacation. The book could be relatable in a way. I liked it because it was a different experience then all of mine.
I like how Tina Aguilar finds love on a summer vacation. Also how she narrates the whole story. I like how it's first person and kind of like a diary. Those are the books i like to read. I would recommend this book for ages 13+.
Profile Image for Jackie.
617 reviews22 followers
February 20, 2016
Enjoyed this book especially for its twists and turns and life in another country.

I won a copy of this book in a Good reads giveaway.
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