Thomas "Buddy" Bardenwerper served for five years in the US Coast Guard. He is currently pursuing a JD and a master’s in public policy at Harvard Law School and the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government. His novel, "Mona Passage," will be published by Syracuse University Press in November 2021.
Mona Passage: A Novel
Mona Passage is the story of two neighbors in San Juan, Puerto Rico: Galán Betances, a Cuban emigrant, and Pat McAllister, a young Coast Guard officer. During long evenings spent together talking on their Calle Luna rooftop, a deep friendship develops based on shared traumas and a common desire to heal. When Galán learns that his sister, Gabriela, is going to be committed to a mental health facility in Cuba, he plans her escape to Puerto Rico. Pat, whose Coast Guard cutter patrols the Mona Passage for drug traffickers and migrants, warns Galán that such a journey will be treacherous—perhaps fatal. Aware of the dangers but determined for Gabriela to live a full life, Galán hands over all the money he has to a Dominican smuggler based out of a San Juan nightclub, and Gabriela begins her terrifying journey.
Knowing that his cutter may be all that separates Galán and Gabriela—and haunted by the human suffering he has witnessed at sea—Pat must decide. Will he remain true to his oath, as his older brother had done in Iraq? Or will he risk his own future—and perhaps his freedom—for his closest friend?
On a moonless night, two armed vessels converge in the Mona Passage, and three lives change forever.
Press and Media Mentions
- "Making It Look Easy: Me, My Grandfather, and Diabetes," BeyondType1.org, Essay Published December 12, 2019.
- "Good Faith on the Florida Straits," InkstickMedia.com, Essay Published July 25, 2019.
- Veterans Writing Award 2019 - Syracuse University Press
- "Mona Passage" - Book Trailer
- "Mona Passage" - Syracuse University Press