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Life changes drastically for Lyana Lagos and her family on Carnival Day 1952, when her father, Luis, a prominent lawyer, along with other dissidents, plan the assassination of Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo. When their plan is discovered, Luis Lagos rushes to his home just in time to rescue his wife and two children from Trujillo’s militia. Speeding away from their home as gunshots penetrate their family car, they flee to neighboring Haiti. With the help of a good friend, the Lagos family travels to New York City and moves into a tiny dilapidated apartment in Hell’s Kitchen, a poor neighborhood riddled with gang violence.

Upon their arrival in Manhattan, Lyana’s father takes a job as a lowly dishwasher while the family tries to adapt to their new lives. Lyana eloquently narrates her family’s hardships, alienation and how her father’s hard work helps him move up the ranks in the restaurant business, as well as how she grows up and embraces the temptations of the Beat Generation, the Hippie Movement, and involves herself in the unstoppable Women’s Liberation Movement. But the influences of these dynamic, free-wheeling times threaten to rip the family apart. Through it all – Lyana Lagos defies all odds and remains true to herself.

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