Panama Fever brings to life the triumphs and tragedies of the men and women who left their homes and loved ones to fulfill the dream of building the Panama Canal. A thrilling novel, crackling with action and adventure, it tells the story of the workers during the French attempt to build a sea level canal in the late 19th century, an effort which ended in failure.The construction is seen through the eyes of two young men, Thomas Judah, the son of a wealthy merchant, and Byron Cooper, an orphan from a sugar plantation, as they seek their destinies against the backdrop of the titanic construction of the canal and confront the catastrophes of earthquake, disease, political corruption and murderous insurrection, while finding love in unlikely places.
A vivid chronicle of an immigrant family challenged by the contradictions of the American Dream. In 1939, Emerson Gardner, a successful Jamaican pharmacist and aspiring doctor, crosses class and social lines and marries Madeline Jans, a free-spirited pediatric nurse risen from poverty. In 1946, the childless couple journey to the United States, landing in New Orleans before pursuing their dreams to New York where they become U.S. citizens. When the force of racial prejudice dashes their hopes of Emerson becoming a doctor, they venture to Los Angeles, content to stay and build a new life after Madeline finally conceives the son she has long wished for. Interwoven with their story is the family's 1963 drive across the southern tier of the United States, from Los Angeles to Miami, after Emerson decides they are going to return to Jamaica now that the island has become independent. The three day trip is seen through the eyes of their 9-year-old son who is bewildered by the rising tensions provoked by the civil rights movement and the conflicts between his parents as their once happy marriage dissolves in bitterness.
"This character-driven outing is a trip worth taking." Publishers Weekly
"An important, coming-of-age tale with a sensitive observant lead." Kirkus Reviews
"Garvey does a masterful job of creating a fully engaging narrative through pitch-perfect prose and nuanced characterizations." BookLife Prize