Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal by Margarita Engle
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt BFYR
Silver People is the story of the “others” who built the Panama Canal. The non-white people who worked the hard backbreaking jobs, the most dangerous jobs. These people were paid in silver not gold (hence comes the name) and were left out of the history books. Margarita Engle seeks to reverse this blatant mistake with Silver People.
Ms Engle’s non-flowery poetic style gives voice to the stark reality of the silver people: the medium-dark Cubano – Mateo and the dark-dark Jamaican – Henry, the locals (e.g. Anita) and the forest. Her poetry moves from one person to another and then is juxtaposed with the discordant response of the forest – the animals, the bugs & insects, and the trees. While the U.S. is building this canal to further industry on the backs of the silver people, the forest gives voice to the devastation wrought through the construction. Once again, Ms Engle beautifully shares a story that enriches our lives. Librarians and Readers’ Advisors, please put this book into as many hands as possible – you won’t regret it!