Panama by Shelby Hiatt
Let me start by saying I’m not a prude; I’m an open-minded librarian. However, there were parts of this book that made me cringe. This book reads more like a cheap romance paperback than a young adult title. It starts slow and is hard to read even before the ‘romance’ part of the book. The background stories were more interesting than the main story line.
I liked the author’s portrayal of the main character’s excitement and disappointment when she arrived in Panama. The author did not scrimp on details of the conditions of the workers and their living quarters, which was one of Panama’s best parts. The turmoil that takes place in that setting is shown realistically through the eyes of a teen. Having the Wright brothers as neighbors was a nice twist. However, the flood and earthquake seemed thrown in to lengthen the book, unless the author was trying to include actual events that occurred in those areas at that time.
The plot jumped around quite a bit, especially toward the end. The book mentioned that one of the Wright brothers was dead while the main character is home, but doesn’t mention how or why he died. As close as the main character was to the Wright brothers, there should have been some mention of the incident. The author did a good job of capturing the excitement of the people as the Canal was finally completed. I liked that natives were the first to use the canal. I also liked how she ended the book, with the entry in the Diary. I believe this is a 2 star book, at best. If it was marketed toward an older audience, I would probably give it a little better rating, but as is, I didn’t care for this book very much at all. The author should write for some other audience instead of teens.