Tina, 16, travels from Madison, Wisconsin, to Santiago, Chile, to spend her summer visiting her father, whom she hasn’t seen in three years.
Chile in 1989 is still under the rule of the Pinochet dictatorship, but the demand for democracy is growing. Tina’s father, Marcelo, is an important figure in the democracy movement. Considered a subversive by the government, Marcelo was imprisoned and tortured. He survived the experience but suffered debilitating injuries and became suicidal and an alcoholic. Tina knows her old papá is gone, but she finds it difficult to accept her new papá, who spends his days working and his nights drinking. She is bored and lonely until she meets Frankie. Their shared love of Metallica and understanding of what it is like to have an alcoholic father bonds them. As she falls in love with Frankie, Tina misses several warning signs that he may not be who he claims to be. The story ramps up to its crescendo when the true danger of the situation is revealed. Suddenly the novel is no longer about family drama and summer love but survival. Smooth dialogue, a quick pace, and palpable suspense combine to make a compelling read. Supporting characters are treated with compassion; violence brings suffering to those on all sides.
A riveting story of love and acceptance amid a tumultuous political landscape. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 14 & up)