Monday, May 10, 2010
by Shelby Hiatt
A 15-year-old unnamed narrator journeys from Dayton Ohio--leaving behind her neighbors Orville and Wilbur Wright--to Panama, where she witnesses the final years of the building of the Panama Canal. In Panama, she falls in love with an older man, a highly-educated member of the Sicilian nobility (who is also a political agitator), and, following an informative visit to the local brothel to ascertain the specifics of birth control available in Panama in 1910, proceeds to have an exotic affair while successfully hiding the relationship from her parents.
Yes, that's what I thought, too.
Although professional reviews of this book are on the "glowing" side and the writing is quite competent, I felt that the story lacks an audience among teens. It features too many coincidentally-witnessed historical events for lovers of historical fiction, and too much on-page sex to be comfortable in middle school (or even some high school) libraries.
Not a first selection, for public library purchase only.