Surviving Santiago

320p. ebook available. Running Pr. Teen. Jun. 2015. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780762456338. LC 2014954486.
Gr 9 Up—This companion to Miller-Lachmann's Gringolandia (Curbstone, 2009) focuses on Daniel's 16-year-old younger sister, Tina. In 1989, Tina is sent to Chile for the summer to be with her father and aunt. Her father is a known anti-government activist, and though he is able to work as a reporter for a radio station, his home life is difficult due to the large amount of alcohol that he consumes and his physical handicaps, which were caused by the beatings he endured when he was locked up as a political prisoner. His sister feels an obligation to help care for him, even though they have a rocky relationship. Tina finds herself in an uncomfortable situation. She is lonely and spends much of her time at her father's house trying to keep busy while her father and aunt are at work. When she meets a delivery boy named Frankie, she believes that he will save her from the agonizing summer ahead. The first two-thirds of the book set the stage for the political climate of Chile in the late 1980s and the interpersonal relationships of the main characters. However, the last third of the novel does not ring true, as Tina stands by a character who betrays her, even when it could mean life or death for her and the ones she loves, and the end seems too pat and implausible.
VERDICT Purchase for collections in need of literature with Hispanic protagonists and historical time periods not often covered in schools.

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