Can love withstand a separation of forty years? This compelling account of innocence lost provides a moving answer. In a brief prologue, the reader learns that Jim Wade’s thirty-year marriage has dissolved because his wife blames him for being emotionally distant. He knows that she’s right; his heart belongs to a girl in a fairy tale. When a mysterious letter invites him to return to that magical environment, the memories come flooding back. The novel itself is a flashback to the Panama Canal Zone of the 1950’s, a jungle paradise for a twelve-year-old boy, but there’s more than one serpent lurking in the grass. Jimmy’s best friend is Bobbi Bartlett, a tomboy who’s never had any romantic interest in boys until now. In their adventures, the buddies cross paths with Randy, a sailor with an abiding hatred of women; Chaplain and Mrs. Martin, Christians concealing profane secrets; Lieutenant Douglas, a black policeman who encounters prejudice at every turn; Esperanza, a maid both beautiful and street-smart; and the powerful Ávila family, whose social standing belies their estranged relations. The interweaving stories of these characters converge in a harrowing climax. Can Jim Wade find the girl who stopped his heart so long ago? Can paradise lost become paradise regained?
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