UQP

April 2014

$16.95 AU

216p pb

ISBN: 978-0702253294

Silver People: a tale from the Panama Canal

Margarita Engle

from the book...

One hundred years ago, the world celebrated the opening of the Panamá Canal. It was a miracle. Where a mountain once stood was now a path of water connecting the world’s two largest oceans. But creating a miracle is no easy task.
 
For only a few coins a day, teenagers Mateo and Henry endure homesickness, backbreaking labour, ferocious heat, landslides, and disease to dig through the mountain with little more than a shovel. Thousands around them lose their lives, while displaced souls like local herb girl Anita, and the endangered rainforest itself, do what they can to survive.
 
This novel in verse tells the story of one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken.

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Silver People by Margarita Engle is a verse novel exploring the construction of the Panama Canal. Centered on the lives and hardships faced by workers, Silver People follows the story of four non-white workers during a time of great exploitation and maltreatment. A historical verse novel, Silver People portrays the viewpoint of the workers, the environment, and the leaders, providing a full recount of events from every possible perspective. 

Beginning with the voyage of foreign workers to Panama, Silver People outlines the harsh conditions which workers were exposed to during the early 20th century. The division of race in wages, living and healthcare provides an honest account of the separation that existed between white and non-white people. Amidst this grueling environment, Silver People shines with messages of hope, exploration, and love, which show the reader the prevalence of these things even amongst hardship.

Most suited to an age group of 13 and above, Silver People will most appeal to those interested in history and those who wish to read a novel constructed in a different way than most. With themes of struggle, exploitation and segregation, Silver People also has deep themes of friendship and exploration. For a unique novel exploring an important historical event, Silver People is a captivating read with unique delivery and perspectives.

Eleanor, age 15

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