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  1. EIGHT YEARS IN AMERICA
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Proud to do their part for the war effort, these Jazz Owl girls are happy to dance with the sailors—until the blazing summer night when racial violence leads to murder. The cool, loose zoot suits they wear are supposedly the reason for the violence—when in reality these boys are viciously beaten and arrested simply because of the color of their skin. Meet teenage Wiccan Mila Flores, who truly could not care less what you think about her Doc Martens, her attitude, or her weight because she knows that, no matter what, her BFF Riley is right by her side.

Instead, armed with a tube of lip gloss and an ancient grimoire, Mila does the unthinkable to uncover the truth: she brings the girls back to life. Unfortunately, Riley, June, and Dayton have no recollection of their murders. But they do have unfinished business to attend to. Now, with only seven days until the spell wears off and the girls return to their graves, Mila must wrangle the distracted group of undead teens and work fast to discover their murderer…before the killer strikes again.

In this genre-defying page-turner from Lygia Day Penaflor, four teens befriend their favorite YA novelist, only to find their deepest, darkest secrets in the pages of her next book—with devastating consequences. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to hear the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her. Whether we are collecting words, reading favorite books in the library, celebrating holidays, writing poems, sharing secrets, or singing a jazzy duet, words and books can take us on wonderful adventures and bring us joy.

Poet Pat Mora has brought together a collection of her poems that celebrates engaging with words and books in all these ways and more. Vivid illustrations by Raul Colon bring the poems to life and interpret the magic of the language with captivating images in a style influenced by Mexican muralists. Together the poems and illustrations are sure to inspire creative wordplay in readers of all ages. Now, in his sophomore year of high school, Moss and his fellow classmates find themselves increasingly treated like criminals their own school.

New rules. Random locker searches. Constant intimidation and Oakland Police Department stationed in their halls. Despite their youth, the students decide to organize and push back against the administration. When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift. And finally, we read Aztec tales about the arrival of the blonde strangers from across the sea, the strangers who seek to upend the rule of Motecuhzoma and destroy the very stories we are reading.

She is so intent on keeping him in her sights that, when he stops to speak to someone, she almost runs right into him! Inocencia, the daughter of a Spanish bureaucrat, was 18 when she first heard Figueroa speak about freedom from colonial repression and an independent Puerto Rico. Hearing the speakers at the assembly, some who advocate for total independence from Spain and others who favor a plan that would give Puerto Rico a voice in the Spanish government, fuels her dreams of becoming a leader in the movement.

Ranging from Puerto Rico to Cuba and the United States, this engaging novel for teens follows historical figures that were instrumental in the fight for self-determination in Puerto Rico. Moses Vargas hates his life. When Moses discovers that someone has been sending out text messages with a photo of him and his father in a prison uniform, he ends up in a fight and then suspended for three days.

He realizes that several boys at Roosevelt High School are dealing with absentee fathers, putting them at risk for failure or dropping out. With permission from the principal, Mr. Moses grudgingly attends the sessions that draw on indigenous and cultural roots to empower the boys. Realizing he is not the only one with a problematic home life and the new friendship of a pretty classmate whose father is also in prison helps Moses to begin talking about his anger and embarrassment.

But will he really be able to overcome his resentment towards his father? Lula must let go of the ghosts of her past to face the actual living dead of her present. Then tragedy strikes when a bus crash leaves her friends and her boyfriend, Maks, dead. Desperate to reclaim normalcy, Lula invokes a dark spell to bring Maks back. Some days, ten-year-old Margarita Sandoval feels as if the wind might blow her away. The country has been gripped by the Great Depression, so times are hard everywhere. How can Margarita keep her friend, find a place in Fort Steele, and yet remain true to herself?

Two proud kingdoms stand on opposite shores, with only a bloody history between them. As best friend and lady-in-waiting to the princess, Branwen is guided by two principles: devotion to her homeland and hatred for the raiders who killed her parents. When she unknowingly saves the life of her enemy, he awakens her ancient healing magic and opens her heart.

Branwen begins to dream of peace, but the princess she serves is not so easily convinced. Her family has worked hard performing at festivals and quinceaneras. Now, they have a shot at the main stage. How will Miranda make it a performance to remember? When she accidentally overhears Mr. Will she have the heart for sabotage once she and Miranda actually start to become friends?

An un-coming-of-age story that charts the devolution of year-old Emilia DeJesus when she learns that the police arrested the wrong man for attacking her seven years prior, that the real perpetrator is still out there, and that beauty can be found in all lost things. New school, new Sophia. But all does not go according to plan.


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And her best friend is drifting away, getting interested in boys and losing interest in Sophia. As the middle school blues set in, Sophia must reach deep down and find a little UMPH—the difference between being good and being great—to figure out her own place, on the field and off.

Distressed by new threats, the Garza family take a summer trip to the mountains of La Chinantla in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. Now the shapeshifting heroes will have to find a legendary city hidden deep in the cloud forests to forge new alliances, face foes both new and old, and save the ones they love. Atheneum Books, July 3, Today is a big day Today, Lena starts kindergarten.

She is very excited. Sixth-grader Lu Olivera just wants to keep her head down and get along with everyone in her class.


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  • In the heart of the Great Depression, Rancho Las Moras, like everywhere else in Texas, is gripped by the drought of the Dust Bowl, and resentment is building among white farmers against Mexican Americans. Dumped across the border and separated from half her family, Estrella must figure out a way to survive and care for her mother and baby brother. How can she reunite with her father and grandparents and convince her country of birth that she deserves to return home?

    There are no easy answers in the first YA book to tackle this hidden history. The first time Abuela holds Nina, her heart overflows with tenderness. And as Nina grows up, she and Abuela spend plenty of time together.

    EIGHT YEARS IN AMERICA

    Luckily, time spent together — and the love Abuela and Nina have for each other — could turn out to be the very best gift of all. Every day, these men and women join the work force and contribute positively to society. The story is told via the ancient Mixtec codex—accordion fold—format. Juan grew up in Mexico working in the fields to help provide for his family. Struggling for money, Juan crosses over into the United States and becomes an undocumented worker, living in a poor neighborhood, working hard to survive.

    Though he is able to get a job as a busboy at a restaurant, he is severely undercompensated—he receives less than half of the minimum wage! Risking his boss reporting him to the authorities for not having proper resident papers, Juan risks everything and stands up for himself and the rest of the community. Marcus Vega is six feet tall, pounds, and the owner of a premature mustache.

    Marcus knows what classmates and teachers see when they look at him: a monster. But appearances are deceiving. At home, Marcus is a devoted brother.

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    His mom works long hours and his dad walked out ten years ago—someone has to pick up the slack. After a fight at school leaves him facing suspension, Marcus and his family decide to hit the reset button and regroup for a week in Puerto Rico. Marcus is more interested in finding his father, though, who is somewhere on the island. Through a series of misadventures that take Marcus all over Puerto Rico in search of the elusive Mr. Vega, Marcus meets a colorful cast of characters who show him the many faces of fatherhood. And he even learns a bit of Spanish along the way.

    There are many reasons to feel different. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway. Or is it the other way around? Laughs and hijinks abound in this young middle grade novel about a girl and her many cousins in small-town Texas.

    A boy takes on a community art project in order to make his neighborhood more beautiful in this empowering and inspiring picture book by Susan Verde, stunningly illustrated by award-winning artist John Parra. One creative boy. One bare, abandoned wall. One BIG idea. Around it, the community bustles with life: music, dancing, laughing.

    Not the wall. It is bleak. One boy decides to change that. At first everything is calm and chill, the way Bryan likes it, as the boys bond over their love of reading comics and drawing superheroes. But things get uncomfortable when it turns out Mike has some risky ideas about how to have fun. He starts cutting school, jumping subway turnstiles and going train surfing, with Mike in the lead. But when Mike takes things a step too far and shows his true colors, Bryan has a difficult decision to make. As the first Latina Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor has inspired young people around the world to reach for their dreams.

    But what inspired her? For young Sonia, the answer was books! They were her mirrors, her maps, her friends, and her teachers. Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic and third woman appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States, was a young girl when she dared to dream big. Her dream? To become a lawyer and a judge. That has been the most important lesson of my life.

    You have to learn to dream big dreams. Always, she believed in herself. Her determination, along with guidance from generous mentors and the unwavering love of her extended Puerto Rican family, propelled her ever forward. All names hurled at eighteen-year-old Seraphina Dovetail. Abandoned as a child, Sera dreams of becoming an inspector and finding her family. Her birth order, quick temper, and tendency to set things on fire, however, have left her an outcast with failing marks…and just what Professor Nikolai Barrington is looking for. Sera is quickly thrust into a world where witches are being kidnapped, bodies are raised from the dead, and someone is burning seventhborns alive.

    She brought her strength, her work, her passion, her hopes and dreams…and her stories. But together, they found an unexpected, unbelievable place: the public library. There, book by book, they untangled the language of this strange new land, and learned to make their home within it. Dreamers is a celebration of what migrantes bring with them when they leave their homes. Beautiful and powerful at any time but given particular urgency as the status of our own Dreamers becomes uncertain, this is a story that is both topical and timeless.

    The lyrical text is complemented by sumptuously detailed illustrations, rich in symbolism. Merci Suarez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, Merci has never been like the other kids at her private school, because she and her older brother, Roli, are scholarship students. In a coming-of-age tale full of humor and wisdom, award-winning author Meg Medina gets to the heart of the confusion and constant change that defines middle school—and the steadfast connection that family defines family.

    Levine Books, September 11, Magdalys Roca and her friends from the Colored Orphan Asylum are on a field trip when the Draft Riots break out, and a number of their fellow orphans are kidnapped by an evil magistrate, Richard Riker. Magdalys and her friends flee to Brooklyn and settle in the Dactyl Hill neighborhood, where black and brown New Yorkers have set up an independent community—a safe haven from the threats of Manhattan. Together with the Vigilance Committee, they train to fly on dactylback, discover new friends and amazing dinosaurs, and plot to take down Riker.

    Zane has always enjoyed exploring the dormant volcano near his home in New Mexico, even though hiking it is challenging. Together they return to the volcano, where all kinds of crazy happens. Brooks turns into a hawk, a demon attacks them in a cave, and Rosie gives her all while trying to protect Zane. When Zane decides to save his dog no matter the cost, he is thrust into an adventure full of surprising discoveries, dangerous secrets, and an all-out war between the gods, one of whom happens to be his father. To survive, Zane will have to become the Storm Runner.

    But he takes some hard hits the summer before senior year when his nearly perfect brother, Manny, returns from a tour in Iraq with a devastating case of PTSD. Ever since her mom died three years ago, Analee Echevarria has had trouble saying out loud the weird thoughts that sit in her head. Through Kiri, Analee is able to express everything real-life Analee cannot: her bravery, her strength, her inner warrior. So when high school heartthrob Seb Matias asks Analee to pose as his girlfriend in an attempt to make his ex jealous, Analee agrees.

    Sure, Seb seems kind of obnoxious, but Analee could use some practice connecting with people in real life. But the more Seb tries to coax Analee out of her comfort zone, the more she starts to wonder if her anxious, invisible self is even ready for the real world. Can Analee figure it all out without losing herself in the process? Come join the crowd headed for the parade. Marvel at the people riding motorcycles, bicycles, tricycles, and unicycles.

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    Duck out of the way as firefighters spray water on hot spectators. Clap to the music as bands of musicians playing clarinetes, saxophones, flautas, trumpets, and drums march by. Feast on lemonade, watermelon, tacos, and ice cream. Wave to the corn princess as her float passes by. Then take cover when a quick rain shower comes, followed by a bright rainbow. Pop, pop, pop Bon, bon, bon With engaging text and imaginative, whimsical illustrations, this story is the perfect way to enjoy a summer day—and learn some Spanish, too. Zuri Benitez has pride.

    But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable. When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding. A river runs through young Manny Maldonado Jr. Sometimes at night it even shoots through his brain like a bullet. The iron river is everything to Man-on-Fire, Man for short to his friends, Little Man to his uncles and cousins.

    He watches it, he waits for it, he plays nears its tracks, he listens for the weight of its currents strong currents flowing east pulling two hundred boxcars, light current going west with less than fifty cars , he whiles away long summer days throwing rocks and bricks at it with his friends Danny, Marco and Little. They line up cans and bottles in mock battles to try to throw it off track. Bloomsbury, September 25, Jorge Bergoglio was a typical boy growing up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, jumping into pick-up soccer games and listening to lively music on the city streets.

    His grandma Rosa taught him the importance of doing good and inspired his passion to help others. This passion and years of hard work led him to become a Jesuit priest, a bishop, and then a cardinal. Speaking out on the most important issues of our time, he has become an influential voice in our world—a true pontiff, a builder of bridges.

    But do I want to have sex with this guy? The other thing is, sometimes I think I could be bisexual, and every year or two I have a man sex experiment. My phone rings again. Do I look like that kind of girl? Well…how much? This makes , or is it ? Or 2, miles and a month or two of groceries and stuff while I explore desert canyons and sky islands. What more could a girl need? I slide down between his legs and he unzips his jeans eagerly.

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    It is small, with a nice curve and for a second I love it and want to fuck him. He gasps and wiggles a little, and I take his cock in my hand. He moans and half thrusts his hips. I love this. When I finally grab his cock, two-handed, and give it a couple strong, twisting strokes, he explodes right away. I giggle. While he cleans up, I pull my jeans and tank top back on over my fishnets and thong.

    I make myself look totally calm while I throw my iPod and cleaning stuff in the bag I came with, give him a goodbye hug, and tell him he should really call me again to clean the rest of the house. Then I fold over in my seat, laughing and clapping my hands with excitement. Leaning back, I push my hips up to pull my jeans down and start fishing the hundreds out of my fishnets. The next day Spot and I get in the van and drive across the country until I find a beautiful desert-sky island in northern Arizona. I stay for a couple weeks, playing in a creek and tracking coyote, before I get low on money again and start over.

    We humans are far more complex than the news headlines and clickbait would have you believe. Let the Narratively newsletter be your guide. Love this Narratively story? Sign up for our Newsletter. Send us a story tip. Become a Patron. Follow us. From a near-death experience that shook a family to its core to a shocking proposition in a therapist's office, Believable explores how our stories define who we are. I n each episode of Believable , we dive into a personal, eye-opening story where narratives conflict, and different perspectives about the truth collide.

    These are complex and suspenseful audio stories that expand to say something larger about the role of narrative and identity in our lives. Episode 1 of Believable , which is now live, is about a woman who bounced around state institutions and foster homes as a child, always wishing for the family she never had. Until one day she finally gets what she asked for — and then some. How a brilliant scientist went from discovering a mother lode of treasure at the bottom of the sea to fleeing from authorities with suitcases full of cash.

    Thompson had long insisted that he suffers from neurological problems and chronic fatigue syndrome, which impairs his memory, and that his meandering explanations were a symptom of the distress foisted upon him. Thompson was genuinely sickened and overwhelmed, however, and he found it extremely frustrating that nobody seemed to take his condition seriously.

    In the 30 years since, the weight of the find had upended partnerships, ended his marriage, and set loose the specter of greed. What began as a valiant mission of science turned into something else entirely. O n September 11, , about 7, feet beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, a set of glowing orbs moved smoothly through the darkness and illuminated the mysterious world below. That far down there are few currents, the water is close to freezing, and it is almost pitch black.

    The only light typically comes from the bioluminescent creatures that float by like ghosts, but in this case the lights were from a six-ton, unmanned vessel. The Nemo , looking like an industrial freezer with two robotic arms, made a small adjustment to its thrusters and hovered above the scattered remains of a sunken ship.

    Video of the wreckage was relayed to a vessel bobbing above, giving the crew — and the world — the first look at a ship whose location had stymied treasure hunters for generations. It was the SS Central America , a massive side-wheel steamship that sank in a hurricane off the coast of South Carolina in Illustration of the S. Central America before its sinking. Photo courtesy Library of Congress. The find was remarkable for many reasons. The artifacts eventually recovered from the ship were a window into a bygone era and gave voice to the hundreds of people who were pulled into the abyss.

    But the discovery was also a spectacular victory for pocketbooks — the ship was carrying gold when it sank, and lots of it: coins, bars and nuggets of every size surrounded the wreck and covered its decks and rotting masts. And that was only what the crew could see — somewhere in the remains were said to be between 3 and 21 tons of gold, a haul some experts valued at close to half a billion dollars.

    For Thompson, the Edisonian genius who masterminded the expedition, the discovery was the first salvo of what looked to be a long, impressive career. He became an American hero, a mix of brains and daring in the tradition of the scientist-adventurers of yore. But Thompson was subjected to a legal hell storm as soon as he set foot on shore.

    Numerous people and companies were vying for their share of the gold, and the unending litigation was compounded by the lawsuits filed by investors who claimed Thompson had ripped them off. In , long after the litigation had sidetracked his calling, Thompson went underground, allegedly taking with him suitcases full of cash and gold. Months later, Thompson was staying under an assumed name at a hotel in Boca Raton, Florida, trying to keep his faculties in check.

    He was unkempt, unwell and barely left his hotel room, as he had been on the run from federal authorities for the past two and a half years. From the witness stand in Columbus, Thompson disclosed startling information in a story already laden with tragedy and fortunes lost — and shed light on the mystery of millions in still-missing gold. The pressure 8, feet below the sea is times greater than on the surface, and Tommy Thompson was squeezed by something even more intense for the better part of 30 years.

    He grew up in Defiance, Ohio, a small city in the northwestern corner of the state. He was always drawn to the water, and he enjoyed challenging friends to breath-holding contests. When he was a teenager, he bought and fixed up an amphibious car, and he loved pranking his friends by driving unsuspecting passengers into a lake. Rife with lore, the hunters spoke of ships sunken somewhere out in the ocean with more gold than could ever be spent. However, nobody knew quite where to start looking, nor could they afford the technology necessary to undertake the search. Following his graduation from The Ohio State University with a degree in ocean engineering, Thompson went to work for the Battelle Memorial Institute, a prominent research lab in Columbus that has developed everything from kitchen appliances to nuclear weapons.

    There, he was able to work on deep-sea engineering projects, at one point developing technology that allowed the U. Thompson wanted to work exclusively in deep water but was routinely warned that such jobs were hard to come by. So he began looking for other ways to pursue this heady scientific passion. It was actually the means to an end. One of the first orders of business was to find the perfect wreck to hunt. Thompson worked with Bob Evans, an equivalently intelligent polymath and professional geologist, to winnow down the list of candidate ships.

    The Central America ferried passengers to and from California at the height of the Gold Rush in the mid 19th century. Six hundred people, and up to 21 tons of gold coming from California, were aboard the Central America when it disembarked to New York from a stopover in Cuba on September 3, Five days later, the ship found herself floundering in the middle of a terrifying hurricane. Passengers attempted a hour nonstop bucket brigade to keep the ship afloat, but the engines flooded and the storm ripped apart masts and sails. The ship was doomed. The vessel let out a final tortured groan as it sank on the evening of September 12, sucking souls down in a horrifying vortex.

    The loss in gold was so profound that it was one of the factors precipitating the Great Panic financial crisis of Finding the Central America would be no easy matter — proportionally it would be like finding a single grain of sand in the floor plan of a four-bedroom house. The key, Thompson knew, was to undertake a logical and hyper-organized search. Bob Evans used every known detail about the fateful voyage, including passenger and crew accounts of the weather as the ship sank, and worked with a search theory expert to determine that the wreck was likely somewhere in a 1,square-mile grid miles southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, in part of the ocean that was nearly a mile and a half deep.

    Each square on the grid was assigned a number based on the likelihood that the ship had ended up there, and the idea was to trawl a sonar apparatus up and down the grid and take in-depth readings of the most promising results. Obsessed with his work, Thompson was said to be indifferent to food and sleep, dressed in a thrift store suit and hair afrizz. As a result, the high-powered investors waiting in their upper-floor offices and elegant conference rooms were often skeptical of his bewildering presence.

    But time after time, Thompson would speak to them reasonably, thoroughly and intelligently. He was realistic about the low probability of success, outlined various contingencies, and emphasized that the mission offered the chance for the investors to participate in a journey of good old American discovery. Investors soon found themselves chuckling in delight at the audacious fun of the project and the inspiring confidence they felt in Thompson. Wayne Ashby told the Columbus Dispatch in Thompson was the head of both.

    Under the aegis of these companies, Thompson outfitted a search vessel, put together a crew, and developed a seven-ton remotely operated vehicle capable of withstanding deep-ocean conditions. They also conducted various other experiments useful to the recovery, such as purposely giving Evans the bends. As Gary Kinder writes in Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea, the deepest an unmanned submersible had gone previous to this was 6, feet. That vehicle had been difficult to control, with only one arm that could perform rudimentary functions.

    The technology Thompson and his crew developed in secret streamlined and refined the submersible so that it was much easier to control and could perform the delicate tasks needed for the recovery of the ship. It was one of their secret weapons, and the mission to find the Central America was officially launched in June The mission was subject to numerous difficulties: seasickness, short tempers, errant weather, malfunctioning equipment, little sleep, and a stretch of time when the only food served was fried chicken.

    Investors groused about the delays, but Thompson always managed to assuage their fears. In late summer , the crew sent the submersible robot down to check out an overlooked blip on the search grid. The control room aboard the ship, with its walls of monitors and technology that made it look like an alien craft from an old movie, exploded with profoundly human joy.

    Gold and artifacts were brought to the surface starting in fall , the beginnings of a haul that would grow to include gold ingots, 7, gold coins, and, at 80 pounds, one of the largest single pieces of gold ever discovered and at the time the most valuable piece of currency in the world. Wayne Ashby told the Dispatch when the discovery was announced. When asked by a reporter to estimate the value of the haul, Thompson demurred. The first haul of gold was taken from the ship straight into armored cars by guards carrying machine guns amidst cheering investors, well wishers, and descendants of the survivors of the Central America wreck.

    But as it would turn out, that brief glimpse was the closest any investor would ever get to the treasure found at the bottom of the sea. I n , the Columbus-America Discovery Group had secured its right in admiralty court to excavate the Central America site and retain possession of whatever they discovered beneath the sea. But this ruling was challenged almost as soon as Thompson set foot back on the shore. Thompson and his companies were sued by no less than separate entities, including 39 insurance companies that had insured the cargo on the original Central America voyage.

    Things got even more complex when an order of Capuchin monks sued Thompson, alleging he had copped the intel given to them by a professor from Columbia University whom they had commissioned to do a sonar search of the same area. The estimated location of the S. Central America. Illustration by Yunuen Bonaparte. Recovery operations were suspended in because of the lawsuits, leaving the fate of the gold brought to the surface in legal limbo — and tons of gold still on the wreck at the bottom of the sea.

    The back-and-forth continued until and in the process established case law in admiralty court when Thompson and his companies were finally awarded Coupled with a significant devaluing of the rare coin market, a few investors wondered about the future of their investment. The pressure mounted as Thompson attempted to balance his obligations to his crew, his companies, and his investors while being a dad to his three kids.

    He was right there, every time there was a hearing. He read every page of every brief, and a lot of times he was helping with the writing, too. Army, but this later proved to be a myth. Meetings with investors became less frequent, they said, as did updates and newsletters. Once lauded for his openness, Thompson appeared to go into a shell. Thompson said that his silence was necessary to protect trade secrets. By , some of the investors were fed up with the way Recovery Limited Partnership was being run and made moves to establish another company, this time with the investors in charge.

    The companies were restructured, with the reworked Columbus Exploration as a partner company to Recovery Limited Partnership. Thompson was again the head of both entities, though it was stipulated that he would draw a salary only from the former and not the latter. Much of it was sold to gold and coin dealers, and some of the treasure was displayed in a lavish traveling exhibit across the country, with Thompson sometimes making an appearance alongside his discovery. Photos courtesy Donn Pearlman. Thompson then allegedly told investors that they would not be seeing any of the proceeds, as all the money went to pay off the loans and legal fees that had accrued since the mission began.

    Thompson took the coins without approval from the board, though his attorney Keith Golden maintains there was nothing clandestine about it. Nonetheless, in , two former investors filed lawsuits against Thompson for breach of contract and fiduciary duty: Donald Fanta, president of an investment firm, the Fanta Group, and the Dispatch Printing Company, owned by the family that ran The Columbus Dispatch. Dispatch scion John W.

    However, he died and his cousin John F. Convinced that Thompson was ripping him off, the cousin pushed the lawsuit ahead. Thompson was next sued by a group of nine sonar techs from the original mission who claimed they had been duped out of 2 percent of the profits from the gold, plus interest. The two cases were combined with a third into a mega-lawsuit in federal court, creating a labyrinthine legal situation with a rotating cast of attorneys and thousands of motions and maneuvers that bewildered even seasoned courtroom players.

    Missions to the Central America were once again put on hold as Thompson put his mind to work filing legal briefs and appeals. Once having bragged of being the subject of more than 3, articles, Thompson had long since stopped talking to the press, and now spent half the year living in a Florida mansion rented under another name.

    Thompson began to show symptoms of the gilded affliction.

    Sisters in Time

    In he was arrested in Jacksonville after a sheriff observed him hiding something under the seat following a routine traffic stop. In July , U. Organ had never actually met Thompson and claimed that he was out to sea. But Judge Sargus shook his head and declared bullshit. The two were presumed to be together and, some of the investors speculated, in possession of millions of dollars in cash and the gold coins. On top of the civil suits against him, Thompson was charged with criminal contempt of court, and U.

    Marshals were tasked with tracking down him down. Marshal Brad Fleming told the Associated Press in the midst of the pursuit. Once the most successful treasure hunter in the world, Tommy Thompson was now the one being hunted. I n late summer , a handyman named James Kennedy walked up to the porch of Gracewood, a large home in Vero Beach, Florida.

    Kennedy took out his cell phone and pretended to call the landlord. I picked up my cell phone and I said it real loud. He had been a handyman for decades, but even he was taken aback by what he found inside. Thompson had been renting Gracewood since , a home away from the hassles in Columbus, and the mansion had become their home base when they fled Ohio two months earlier. As renters, Thompson and Antekeier had always been friendly but maintained their distance, Brinkerhoff said.

    He searched for Thompson on the internet and learned that the tenants were wanted by U. Kennedy himself had once found a mammoth bone and was similarly besieged with people trying to take advantage of his find. The U. Marshals erected a wanted billboard as they worked to track down Tommy Thompson and Alison Antekeier.

    Photo courtesy U. Marshals Service. So he called the Marshals. But by that point, Thompson and Antekeier had long since fled Gracewood, and law enforcement was once again unable to determine where they went. Marshal Brad Fleming said in an interview. Based on material found in the Pennwood cabin, the Marshals were alerted to the Hilton Boca Raton Suites, a banal upscale setting where the pair of fugitives had remained hidden since May 30, Marshals prepared to descend on the hotel. Thompson was a brilliant mind and incredible strategist, but he was not suited for life on the run.

    One of the last times anyone had seen him, it was a worrisome sight: Thompson was in the backyard of a house he was renting, yelling into his phone in his underwear. Think more along the lines of Dilbert in charge of the operation. But what had to be one of the most intense disappointments in the saga, for Thompson, was the fact that the excavation of the Central America would carry on without him. Kane in turn contracted a company called Odyssey Marine Exploration to finish the recovery of the Central America.

    The goal was to bring the rest of the gold to the surface and ensure that the investors got paid.

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    Thompson has significant holdings in the U. If there are dollars that he is hiding, I want every penny of it. The renewed excavation launched in April , with U. Marshals putting a wanted poster of Thompson aboard the ship in case he attempted to rejoin the mission.

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    The operation was quite successful, bringing up more than 45 gold bars, 15, coins, and hundreds of artifacts over the course of numerous dives, including a pair of glasses, a pistol, and a safe filled with packages. The sale of the gold was once again undertaken by the California Gold Marketing Group. O n January 27, , Thompson, then 62, was pale and sickly as he sat in his room in the Hilton Suites in Boca Raton, his body racked with the paranoid tics of a man on the run.

    She took almost comically cinematic precautions when appearing in public, wearing big floppy hats and taking a succession of buses and taxis to lose anyone who might be on her tail. The hunt was led by an intimidating and extremely direct U. Marshal named Mike Stroh.

    He had been involved in manhunts all over the country, but the mission to find Thompson had special resonance with him as a professional person-finder. After seven hours of following her, Marshals crashed their way into the hotel and surprised the two, screaming at them not to move. The Marshals would ultimately cart away 75 boxes of evidence from the room, but they came up empty-handed in one aspect of their quest.

    Investigators found boxes in the Gracewood mansion that looked a lot like those that had held the restrike coins, but the gold itself was nowhere to be found. Thompson tried to fight the extradition. Marshal Brad Fleming said Thompson was chatty as they made the journey back, perhaps relieved that he no longer had to hide.

    Both pleaded guilty to criminal contempt. T he capture of Tommy Thompson made for a fairly pedestrian end to a story that had captivated Columbus for years. Other associates were wistful about the turn of events. But the notion that not even a brilliant mind could resist running off with gold was too salacious not to report, and the allegations of thievery became the dominant narrative. It was an unfortunate bookend to the legacy of someone who had long maintained that the historical and scientific aspects of the recovery were the most important point of the mission.

    Gold ingots, pokes, dust and nuggets, all part of the exhibition showing the recovered treasure from the S. Central America Photos courtesy Donn Pearlman. Indeed, the non-gold accomplishments of the Central America mission are impressive and resounding. Michael Vecchione, a zoologist with the Smithsonian who briefly worked with the expedition, said the jerry-rigged technology of the Nemo is now standard practice for deep-ocean explorations.

    The mission took thousands of hours of video, giving scientists an unprecedented look at deep-sea life and revealing new species and their evolutionary adaptations, he said. Deep-sea sponges were retrieved and studied for their antitumor properties. And the way in which they physically nabbed the gold was incredible in its own right: The robotic arms of the submersible gingerly placed a frame around a pile of coins and injected it with silicone, which, when solidified, made for a block full of gold that could be stored until it was ready to be brought to the surface.

    Controlling all of this were systems less powerful than those contained in the average smart phone, Bob Evans said. The coins and other gold items recovered from the Odyssey Marine—led excavation debuted in a public exhibit in Los Angeles in February to record-setting attendance, and they were next seen in May at an NRA convention in Dallas. After administrative costs, court costs and creditor claims, there would theoretically be a distribution to the investors in Recovery Limited Partnership — the first time they would ever see a dime, 33 years after the initial investment for some.

    The prison, an imposing but generic detention facility surrounded by razor wire, is about three hours from Columbus, and it is the place Thompson has called home for more than four years. It appears to be his home for the foreseeable future, as Thompson is serving an indefinite sentence in federal prison for civil contempt for refusing to divulge the whereabouts of the coins.

    It has been hard to deduce his motivations, even for those who know him well. His intense concentration and extreme focus found the Central America , and the same focus applied to trying to find an answer to his current predicament is taken as unwillingness to play ball. Only two of the hundreds of investors in the mission have sued Thompson because they knew it was a gamble to begin with, she said. Moreover, as Bob Evans explained, the actual value of the gold was highly speculative in the first place.

    The inventory has been published. There is no other gold that has been recovered. Perhaps the math is not simple, but it is not beyond the talents of the most elementary minds, or at least the reasonably educated. But according to Quintin Lindsmith, attorney for the Dispatch Printing Company, recouping the supposedly missing returns is not the point. Thirty years and two months after the treasure was found, Thompson was driven the long three hours from Milan, Michigan, to Columbus, Ohio, to stand trial and answer questions many people had been waiting a long time to ask.

    The missing defendant suggested a repeat of previous events. Had he somehow fled? Thompson, in a navy sport coat and light-colored plaid shirt, was momentarily nonplussed, and his eyes, behind his black, thick-framed glasses, registered a small amount of surprise. Most damning, however, was alleged evidence that he had stashed gold at the bottom of the sea, presumably to be retrieved later on: When the receivership went back down to the Central America in , they found coins and gold bars that had been neatly laid out on trays.

    Thompson also admitted that he had made off with the gold coins as a form of remuneration he felt he was due. In her testimony, Alison Antekeier said that between and she moved them from California to a safe-deposit box in in Jacksonville, and then to a storage facility in Fort Lauderdale, where she gave them, in a handful of suitcases, to a man who was supposed to transfer them to an irrevocable trust in Belize.

    This was the point Thompson was trying to make all along. As his attorney Keith Golden explained, an irrevocable trust means that once the trust is set up, the person who opened it cannot access it without the permission of the named beneficiaries. Who was supposedly named as beneficiaries on the trust is unclear. The ruling was later overturned on appeal. Finally, after weeks of testimony, the attorneys made their closing arguments and the jury reached its verdict. Thompson sat in his wheelchair, legs shackled, as the official paperwork was handed from the foreman to the bailiff to the judge.

    After the decades of science, discovery, stress and flight, it all came down to this. In the matter of the civil case against, it was determined that defendant Thomas G. Thompson sat expressionless while everyone else gasped. However, the jury declined to award any punitive damages or court fees, indicating that there was no evidence that Thompson acted with malice. Either way, Lindsmith said the victory is once again about the principle. Like the cost of the litigation itself, the financial cost is immaterial to the larger point.

    The receivership is fielding offers for a multitude of items from the Central America and the recovery missions. Available for sale are bits and pieces of scientific and historical ephemera , including silicone molds with gold coin impressions, and even the Nemo , the remote underwater vehicle that was the first human contact with the Central America since They have tickets from the passengers. Gold bars and coins at the shipwreck site in Golden adds that the relentless litigation torpedoed an opportunity that would have made the Central America recovery look like chump change.

    Thompson was working with the Colombian government in the mids to recover an old galleon whose estimated value is legitimately a few billion dollars. The next steps for Thompson in the case brought by Dispatch Printing include an appeal of the judgment, with the hopes that the award will be diminished or overturned. Separately, Thompson has filed an appeal in federal court to be let out of prison. Thompson is currently awaiting the ruling of a three-judge panel about whether or not his is valid. What little time he has to use the phone is spent speaking with lawyers, business partners, and his family; ditto for the days he can have visitors.

    And after decades of developing new technology, going after hidden gold, and having to fight in court, Thompson is used to secrecy and has no reason to talk about the case to anyone. Alison Antekeier still lives in Columbus, keeps a low profile, and is still reportedly very sympathetic to Thompson.

    Numerous attempts to contact her went unanswered. In Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea , Gary Kinder includes chilling survivor accounts of the Central America disaster, including men and women screaming maniacally as they dumped out purses and emptied hidden pockets of gold as the ship sank. The vacated wealth was something they otherwise would have killed to protect. It was mania wrought by the plague of gold, a crippling infirmity that afflicts humans alone. These Syrian children survived attacks that left them burned beyond belief. One program thousands of miles from home is offering them life-changing treatment.

    W inter was on its way in northwestern Syria when Hana Al Saloom awoke around 6 a. There was a chill in the air. Her 5-year-old daughter, Aysha, was asleep near a gas heater, as her brothers and sisters slept in other rooms. Hana blinked. The blast knocked her down. Then screams. She swiveled on her knees. She looked around. Everything was on fire. It was as if her house had exploded. The impact must have caused the gas heater to blow up too. The flames spread fast. Hana raced outside with her older children.

    He had reached into the flames to pull her out. His legs and hands were seared. But Aysha was injured the worst.


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    • Neighbors rushed to put out the fire on her body — and all around them. Her skin was smoldering. A neighbor rushed Aysha and her dad to a hospital. Her wavy hair dances around her bright eyes. There she is in a white blouse. There she is in a purple plaid dress. There she is with pigtails, sitting on a swing, wearing a white, blue and red polka-dotted tutu. Aysha Al Saloom, 8, at the apartment in Irvine, California, where she lives with her mother. Aysha will spend several years here while she undergoes surgeries for her burn wounds.

      Her mouth hung open, her eyes slightly cracked, her neck as reddish-pink as a bloody raw steak. Her face looked as if someone had slathered it with a mud mask. Pasty in some places, blackened in others. But her skin, Hana says, was still there, even if it had turned a different shade. Badly hurt and on the brink of death, that is how Hana remembered her daughter on the day she was burned. After Aysha was whisked away to Turkey for medical care on the day of the accident, an uncle who accompanied her sent a photo of her face wrapped in white bandages.

      Instead, the uncle would call regularly with updates from Turkey. She was going to be OK. Doctors focused on her lungs especially, which were damaged from the smoke. Hana prayed and cried, waiting for Aysha to be well enough to come home. Finally, that day came. Hana waited, and when she saw the car coming down the road, she ran out of her house in time to see her little girl step out. She remembers that Aysha wore jeans and a red and white striped dress.

      Her hair had been shaved off. But it was her face that shocked Hana the most. She did not know that the burned layer of skin had fallen away in sheaths, and that the new skin that replaced it was a combination of grafts, recent growth and irregular-shaped scars. Aysha did not look like the little girl her mother remembered, but Hana had no doubt she was her daughter. She grabbed Aysha and carried her inside of the house. She sat down, weeping. Hana recalls how Aysha was welcomed back to parts of the community, but the children who used to play with her refused. In May , they boarded a plane and arrived in California.

      For the last 10 months, Aysha has lived in Southern California, traveling with a chaperone several days a week — an hour each way from an apartment in Irvine — to the hospital in Pasadena for checkups and surgeries, all to treat the burns and scars that run across her arms, chest, neck and face. She is one of six Syrian children who have come to the U. Given the immigration hurdles and expenses for travel, living and medical care, it would be almost impossible for most Syrian families to travel to the U. She has been active in humanitarian projects since the war in Syria began.

      State Department has remained supportive of temporary visas to bring burned Syrian children and their families to the U. The boys are all being treated for their burns at the nearby Shriners Hospitals for Children. All four children and their families live together in one apartment in Galveston. Twenty-five more burned Syrian children are currently on waiting lists to come to the U. Currently they do not have enough funding to bring all of the children who need help.

      There have been half a million deaths and at least two million injuries since the start of the Syrian Civil War in , and the young Syrian patients who show up at Shriners come with gnarled hands, missing eyes and knotty scars, as well as obstructed breathing, hearing and vision. Some can barely swallow. Their injuries are the direct result of air strikes and, in some cases, chemical weapons attacks.

      A longtime Syrian-American activist within the Arab-American community, Moujtahed worked on developing the partnership with Shriners as well as getting support from politicians. Those who survive their burns have a really tough, heavy pain, not only from their burns, but also psychologically. Norbury recalls the injuries of one Syrian boy he treated recently. It looked like he was balancing a baseball on the back of his hand.

      But she still has more surgeries to go. When Aysha is not in the hospital, she plays alone, or studies with a year-old Syrian girl, Hamama, who is also receiving treatment at Shriners and lives with Aysha and her mom in the Irvine apartment.