April's Reviews > Gringolandia

Gringolandia by Lyn Miller-Lachmann
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it was amazing
bookshelves: diverse, ya, historical-fiction

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 things were happening in the world such as the Chilean revolution. What happened is the Chileans elected a socialist person to power. The US was like, no way bro, and totally killed the socialist and instituted a dictator in power. The Chileans were all, we don't like this! And people rebelled and fought for freedom. Daniel, who is the main character, has a freedom fighter father, who was TORTURED in jail. So his dad, understandably is messed up by that. Oh, and I forgot to mention, Daniel and his family now live in the United States.

I thought Gringolandia worked on several different levels. Characterization was tight. See, Daniel was layered. His dad is layered. OH and he has this girlfriend, Courtney, who sort of forced me to confront these ridiculous ideas I had. I'm not gonna lie, I thought Courtney was so annoying, because she was all trying to do annoying things like write a social justice newspaper and ask Daniel's dad these probing questions for her newspaper. Then she gets herself into these dangerous situations. But then I thought, self, would you be annoyed if she was a male? Or would you just think her very courageous? I like it when a book makes me consider my brainwaves.

As historical fiction, I thought Gringolandia was both absorbing and informative. I don't know much about the Chilean revolution except when Howard Zinn mentioned it in A People's History of the United States. I do think getting a teenager's perspective made the learning much more engaging. The teenager wasn't one of those fake ones either, you know, when the character seems contrived. I liked that the history was part of the story, but not the whole story.

The next layer which worked especially well was the family relationships. What I love here is just how complicated the relationships are. I don't know if I'm weird, but my relationship with my family is complicated. I love my family, but they do some very annoying things and I do very annoying things. Well, the way Daniel's father relates to his family is multilayered. On the one hand, he cares for his family. On the other, he is so messed up from being tortured, all he can think about is Chile and going back. Plus, he's dealing with all of these other problems. I won't go too in-depth, so as not to spoil.

In a nutshell, I found myself compelled during Gringolandia.
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Reading Progress

June 14, 2010 – Started Reading
June 14, 2010 – Shelved
June 14, 2010 –
page 1
June 14, 2010 –
page 91
June 15, 2010 –
page 220
June 15, 2010 –
page 250
June 16, 2010 – Shelved as: diverse
June 16, 2010 – Shelved as: ya
June 16, 2010 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
June 17, 2010 – Finished Reading

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