Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal

Engle, Margarita. Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal. Houghton Miffline Harcourt, 2014. The building of the Panama Canal was undoubtedly one of the great engineering feats of the 20th Century. But the human and environmental costs of this effort are rarely discussed. This powerful novel, written in prose poems, illuminates the prices paid in the voices of the "gold people" (English speaking U.S. citizens), the "silver people" (lured to Panama from the Caribbean with deceitful promises of work, good pay, decent living situations) and in the voice of the indigenous people of Panama. The Panamanian jungle is also given voice as the canal building destroys it's environment along with taking the lives of so many of the workers. Still, despite the misery and horror of the experience, the three young people who tell the story, find ways to see and cherish beauty and to build a life for themselves.  Honor book winner for older children, 2015.


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