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3.5 

The Great Divide

By Cristina Henriquez
The Great Divide by Cristina Henriquez digital book - Fable

Publisher Description

A TODAY Show Read With Jenna Book Club Pick!

A powerful novel about the construction of the Panama Canal, casting light on the unsung people who lived, loved, and labored there

It is said that the canal will be the greatest feat of engineering in history. But first, it must be built. For Francisco, a local fisherman who resents the foreign powers clamoring for a slice of his country, nothing is more upsetting than the decision of his son, Omar, to work as a digger in the excavation zone. But for Omar, whose upbringing was quiet and lonely, this job offers a chance to finally find connection.

Ada Bunting is a bold sixteen-year-old from Barbados who arrives in Panama as a stowaway alongside thousands of other West Indians seeking work. Alone and with no resources, she is determined to find a job that will earn enough money for her ailing sister’s surgery. When she sees a young man—Omar—who has collapsed after a grueling shift, she is the only one who rushes to his aid.

John Oswald has dedicated his life to scientific research and has journeyed to Panama in single-minded pursuit of one goal: eliminating malaria. But now, his wife, Marian, has fallen ill herself, and when he witnesses Ada’s bravery and compassion, he hires her on the spot as a caregiver. This fateful decision sets in motion a sweeping tale of ambition, loyalty, and sacrifice. 

Searing and empathetic,The Great Divide explores the intersecting lives of activists, fishmongers, laborers, journalists, neighbors, doctors, and soothsayers—those rarely acknowledged by history even as they carved out its course.

Named a Most Anticipated Book By:  Washington Post * Book Riot * Electric Literature * LitHub * ELLE * The Millions * Goodreads * Reader’s Digest

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8 Reviews

3.5
Thumbs Up
Characters change and growDiverse charactersBeautifully writtenBeautiful setting
Surprised Face with Open Mouth“The Great Divide is such a beautiful book. I can’t even begin to express all of the emotions it carried me through. Just listening to different perspectives of all of the characters - the migrants, the Panamanians even the role of the Americans. Praying that these characters are able to fulfill their goals and achievements. Hearing about their pain, triumphs and for some their demise. The Great Divide touched a very special place in my heart. It gave me a vibrant depiction of what the migrants could have dealt with when they migrated to Panama to work. My great great grandfather migrated to Panama for work. He worked and helped build the Panama Canal. Instead of going back home, he stayed in Panama and lived in Rio Abajo with his family. There was so much richness in this book. I would definitely read it and recommend it to anyone.”
Believable charactersDiverse charactersLikable charactersMulti-layered charactersBeautifully writtenDescriptive writingOriginal writing
Thumbs Up
Characters change and growMulti-layered charactersDescriptive writingFast-pacedBeautiful settingImmersive settingRealistic settingThought-provokingViolence

About Cristina Henriquez

Cristina Henríquez is the author of The Great Divide, The Book of Unknown Americans, The World In Half, and Come Together, Fall Apart: A Novella and Stories. She has been longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and was a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Real Simple, The Oxford American, The American Scholar, and elsewhere. She earned her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She lives in Illinois.

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