Panama

Shelby Hiatt. Houghton Mifflin, $16 (256p) ISBN 978-0-547-19600-8
At 15, the unnamed narrator of Hiatt's first novel hungers for a dramatic change from her dull existence in Dayton, Ohio, early in the 20th century. Inspired by her neighbors—the Wright brothers—she declares, "I am resolved above all else to be less sensible." When her father is offered a job with the Canal Commission during the dredging of the Panama Canal, she believes her moment has arrived ("The fantasy is out there. I'll find it"). Searching for adventure beyond the Zone (a replica of an American town), she goes on night hikes with a policeman and later meets Federico, an enchanting Spanish worker, with whom she begins a passionate affair (years have passed by this point, and she's now 17). He teaches her about corruption in Madrid, she brings him books that they discuss, and their romance soon turns steamy. The question of whether their relationship—and the canal—will be able to withstand forces of nature that range from illness to floods makes for gripping reading. Hiatt's writing is understated yet seductive in this alluring coming-of-age story. Ages 14—up. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 11/30/2009
Release date: 09/01/2009
Genre: Children's
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-0-547-41498-0
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