Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Review: Surviving Santiago by Lyn Miller-Lachmann

Surviving Santiago
Title: Surviving Santiago 
Author: Lyn Miller-Lachmann
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Publishing Date: June 2nd 2015
Pages: 320
Genre: Historical Fiction 
Series: Stand Alone
Source:  ARC 


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.

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. 

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 follo
wing 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.


  1. Thank you for reading Surviving Santiago, and I'm glad you liked it! I'm also glad that it led you to want to find out more about these historical events. I also have information on my website about this novel and Gringolandia, which is the story of Tina's older brother.

  2. This wasn't on my radar either, but glad it was good and that you enjoyed it, sounds totally different to what I usually read, but glad you learned some from it too. This is why I love (but don't read enough of) historical fiction, and if you can come away from a book and have learned something, it did it's job. :)


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