Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 336 pages
Audiobook Length: 12 hours
First Published: 2024
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.
About Cristina Henriquez
Henríquez’s father is from Panama and immigrated to the U.S. in 1971 for college; her mother is from New Jersey and worked in Delaware public schools as a translator. Henríquez was born in Delaware and attended school in the U.S., but spent summers in Panama. She did not speak Spanish as a child and so on visits “had no choice but to sit there and observe” dynamics she later evoked in her writing, particularly the warmth and joy of family life among her father’s relatives. She currently lives in Illinois. Visit the author’s website →