Block buster beginning and climax for debut novel, Mona Passage, by author Thomas Bardenwerper. The author served five years in the U.S. Coast Guard aboard cutters including time in Puerto Rico. The opening of the book took me back to my childhood and hearing about courageous Cubans finding their way to freedom by crossing the waters to Florida on old boats….In this book, the Betances family tries to take this journey. Galán and his father, Gustavo, succeed in the journey while his mother Josephina and little sister get scared and turn back to shore. At this point, I was nervous for this family. The novel skips ahead to 2015 and we meet Lt. Pat McAllister on a Coast Guard Interceptor that looks for Cubans trying to get from the Dominican Republic to sanctuary through the Mona Passage to Puerto Rico. Pat is Galán’s neighbor in Puerto Rico, and they became friends. Galán is desperate to get his younger mentally handicapped sister out of Cuba. The story is told by both Pat and Galán and moves between the past and 2015. You will want to read this fast paced story. I am sure you will see decisions are not just black and white. My thanks to Syracuse University Press, Bookishfirst, and NetGalley for an ARC of this book. The opinions in this review are my own.