Lyn Miller-Lachmann’s “Gringolandia”

It’s a common in Latin American history to run into a military dictatorship during the 20th century, and Chile was no exception. When you study events like this, sometimes the statistics seem more like numbers and not real people. Think about the thousands of people who must flee their homes because their family was threatened by the regime in power. Reading it in a news report is one thing, but hearing their story, from a teenage boy like Daniel Aguilar, is another.

Lyn Miller-Lachman masterfully conveys the story of one Chilean boy, Daniel, who moves to the United States with his mother and sister after military guards arrest his father. Six years later, his father, Marcelo, is freed and rejoins his family after being beaten and tortured in prison. Gringolandia is the story this reunion. Over the course of the book, you learn just how much has changed for Daniel and his father. Daniel has a girlfriend, he’s on the soccer team, in a band, and wants to be an engineer. Marcelo is traumatized, partially paralyzed, with self-destructive tendencies stemming from the years of abuse. When Daniel’s girlfriend, Courtney, goads his father to write about the dictatorship in America, things change for everyone.

This book takes you through the emotional and physical pain of watching your loved ones experience trauma. You watch as the characters evaluate how much they are willing to give up for the sake of freedom. Suddenly, you realize that freedom isn’t always free, and you may have to give up your family and your peace of mind in order to get it. The Aguilars have all paid their own price to liberate Chile from the military regime, and in the aftermath, you can only hope that they will find each other.

Tags: ,

About the Author

Andrew Walker Watson is a junior International Studies Major. He loves Brazilian rap music, discovering useless facts, and, naturally, writing. If he could ever stop staring out into space, he would like to start a global movement to change the world and guest host Saturday Night Live.