Diamonds in the ShadowBook - 2007
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Life is pretty sweet for 16-year-old Jared Finch, with nothing worse than an annoying little sister to disrupt his easy life in suburban Connecticut. Sweet, that is, until his parents volunteer to take in a family of African refugees, forcing Jared to share his life, school, and even his bedroom with a total stranger. But this African family is not quite what they seem; they are hiding secrets that could put Jared and his whole family in serious danger.
This novel by prolific author Caroline B. Cooney sheds light on the painful truths of civil wars in Africa and the trade in illegal diamonds that fund those wars. The story is told from the point of view of various characters in turn, which adds to the suspense of the story while highlighting the contrasts between the comfortable life of suburban Americans and the deprivations of refugees in Africa. The story of the silent and traumatised Alake, who has witnessed and participated in such atrocities, is particularly poignant. Although the work is entirely fictional, the author drew on her own experiences of sponsoring and hosting a refugee family.
A gripping and thought provoking novel, full of suspense and mystery, questions of guilt and innocence, and ultimately of hope and acceptance. A great read for older bookworms.
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