Diamonds in the Shadow
Carolyn Cooney

I am, by nature, a pretty black and white person, and it is for this reason that contemporary realistic fiction is my favorite genre of literature. For me, fantasy and science fiction, and even historical fiction books are less enjoyable to read because I have some trouble applying the content to my own life. It is harder for me to empathize with the characters because either the events in the book could or would never actually happen, or are things that our society no longer has to deal with. Diamonds in the Shadows, by Caroline B. Cooney, is the thrilling story of your ordinary, everyday white American family that decides to open their home to a family of African refugees. Little do they know that not only are these refugees not a family, but they have some very dark secrets that they would just assume forget about all together.

When the refugees arrive in New York, there are actually five people: a husband and wife, two children, and one lone man. The husband and wife, Andre and Celestine; and the two children, Mattu and Alake make up the Amabo family. They are to stay in New York with the Finch family, while the other man, Victor, is to take another flight to Texas, the place that he is to reside. Victor was not happy about this situation---he thought all of the five would be sticking together once in America; however, his motives for this are not at all what they might seem. The refugees had no luggage, except the shoe box that Mattu carried under his arm conspicuously. The security guards at the airport found it suspicious and made him run it through the x-ray machine, only to reveal that the box was fill with the ashes of the boy’s grandparents.

The Finch family, who live in small town Connecticut just outside of New York City, is made up of husband and wife, Drew and Kara; and two children, Jerad and Mopsy. Both Kara and Mopsy are more than ready for their African guests; however, the men in the in the family are slightly less enthused. Once the Amabo family arrives, Mopsy immediately makes Alake, a girl a few years older than her project. Alake was extremely traumatized and is non-responsive to everything that anyone says or does to her---she doesn’t even feed herself, but Mopsy is determined to help her. Mattu is an intelligent young man and he says with Jerad, who is less than thrilled to be helping out. Andre has only one arm---the other was brutally chopped off in the war. Celestine is so grateful to God to be in America and wants nothing more than to become exactly like Kara Finch. At first the family is extremely timid and always seems to be watching over their shoulders as if someone is out to get them. It is later discovered that they do have good reason for these ways---turns out that along with ashes, that shoe box also contained blood diamonds. Victor, the other African refugee, killed the real Amabo family for not cooperating, and gathered these people forcing them to lie about their identities and smuggle the diamonds into America where he planned to sell them and make his fortune. Though things didn’t quite go as Victor had planned, he did what it took, including killing anyone who got in his way to get to the fake Amabo family.

In a climax that kept me on the edge of my seat, Victor found the family. Through his efforts to find the diamonds, Alake becomes an unlikely hero, saving not only Mopsy, her now bosom friend, but also the rest of the two families.

This book was excellent! The storyline was intriguing and I found that I couldn’t put it down. Even more than a good plot, the author included spiritual aspects in the book as well, and I felt that she portrayed Christians in a very accurate, and good light. I would recommend this book to anyone! - KH