Book Review: Gringolandia

"Gringolandia," Gringolandia
Written by Lyn Miller-Lachmann
Published by Curbstone Books, 2009
ISBN:   9781931896498
Age Level: Ages 14 and Up

Description (From GoodReads):

Daniel’s papá, Marcelo, used to play soccer, dance the cueca, and drive his kids to school in a beat-up green taxi—all while publishing an underground newspaper that exposed Chile’s military regime. After papá’s arrest in 1980, Daniel’s family fled to the United States. Now Daniel has a new life, playing guitar in a rock band and dating Courtney, a minister’s daughter. He hopes to become a US citizen as soon as he turns eighteen. When Daniel’s father is released and rejoins his family, they see what five years of prison and torture have done to him. Marcelo is partially paralyzed, haunted by nightmares, and bitter about being exiled to “Gringolandia.” Daniel worries that Courtney’s scheme to start a bilingual human rights newspaper will rake up papá’s past and drive him further into alcohol abuse and self-destruction. Daniel dreams of a real father-son relationship, but he may have to give up everything simply to save his papá’s life. This powerful coming-of-age story portrays an immigrant teen’s struggle to reach his tortured father and find his place in the world.

My thoughts:

Gringolandia isn’t a story easily forgotten, and it shouldn’t be.  As an adult with a Master’s degree in Latin American Studies, the practice of torturing and disappearing political dissidents as a means of social control during violent dictatorships wasn’t new to me. Yet I was still gripped by the novel, finding myself thinking about it days after I’d finished it.  For young adult readers I think Gringolandia would be an incredibly powerful and moving book.  Not only does it give voice to a historical period in a country not often taught about in the classroom, but I believe it also asks readers to think quite deeply about how we determine what is right or wrong and how we judge and make sense of the world around us. Continue reading


Our Next Good Read. . .Gringolandia

We have got a great semester planned with lots of exciting events!! Our first event of our new school year is August’s book group meeting!  We’ve got a great selection of books for this year’s Vamos Gringolandiaa Leer book group! To see our list of books for the year click here.

Join us August 5th at Bookworks from 5:00-7:00 pm to discuss our next book.  We are reading Gringolandia   (Ages 14 and up) by Lyn Miller-Lachmann.

Here’s a sneak peek into the book: (from Goodreads) Continue reading

Book Giveaway!! Gringolandia

Gringolandia2We are so excited to be back!! What better way to start off a new year than with a giveaway?! We’re giving away a copy of Gringolandia written by Lyn Miller-Lachmann–our featured novel for August’s book group meeting!! Check out the following reviews: Continue reading

En la Clase: “Comparing Herstories: The Arpilleristas of Chile and African American Women Quilters in the U.S.” (part 2 of 2)

Monday’s post was the first in this two part series on teaching about the history of Chilean Arpilleras as women’s protest art in Pinochet’s Chile.  In collaboration with the National Hispanic Cultural Center, we held a series of workshops this spring around the exhibition, “Stitching Resistance: The History of Chilean Arpilleras,” which is on view at the NHCC from October 19, 2012 through January, 2014.  If you missed Monday’s discussion, definitely check it out, as it will provide some necessary historical content on the topic.  Today’s post looks at some possible ways to integrate a unit on Chilean arpilleras into your curriculum, through hands-on activities. You’ll find supplementary guides and a lesson plan for creating your own arpillera at the end of the post, so be sure to scroll down.

Arpillera coverI know when I was teaching in the classroom, it wouldn’t have necessarily been easy to justify a unit on the history of Chilean arpilleras.  Continue reading

En la Clase: “Stitching Truth: Chilean Arpilleras in the Classroom” (part 1 of 2)

As Ailesha shared in her ¡Mira, Look! post this past week, our last thematic series of posts for this school year focuses on human rights.  Much of our work through with k-12 arpillerateachers is based on thematic workshops that connect Latin American content with human rights issues.   In collaboration with the National Hispanic Cultural Center, we held a series of workshops this spring around the exhibition, “Stitching Resistance: The History of Chilean Arpilleras,” which is on view at the NHCC from October 19, 2012 through January, 2014. Continue reading

Local Event!! Stitching Resistance: The History of Chilean Arpilleras

For all of our local New Mexico Teachers:

We are very excited to announce our next series of LAII k-12 Teacher workshop for the arpilleraspring semester “Stitching Resistance: The History of Chilean Arpilleras.”

The National Hispanic Cultural Center and the UNM Latin American & Iberian Institute are coming together once again to provide another in-depth and profound look at Latin America history, art and experience via special events tailored for New Mexico teachers. Continue reading

Book Review: The Dreamer

I’ll be honest, before I read Pamela Muñoz Ryan’s The Dreamer, I knew very little about Pablo Neruda.  My knowledge of Neruda could be summed up in one simple statement: he was a famous poet from Chile.  But all that changed with Muñoz Ryan’s account of Neruda’s childhood.  The Dreamer isn’t strictly fiction or biography.  Instead, as it’s The Dreamer, Chile, Pam Munoz Ryandescribed on the inside cover, it weaves together “magical realism with biography, poetry, literary fiction, and sensorial, transporting illustrations, Pam Muñoz Ryan and Peter Sís take readers on a rare journey of the heart and imagination.” In the novel, Neruda, the famous Nobel Laureate literary figure, is dramatically transformed into the imaginative, reflective, shy, and loving child of Neftalí Reyes who would one day become the famous poet.

Continue reading