Thursday, December 13, 2007

Diamonds in the Shadow

Cooney, Caroline B. 2007. Diamonds in the Shadow.

What can I say about Diamonds in the Shadow? Really? So much reading is beginning to get to me. I love it, it's true, but I feel like I'm starting to use the same adjectives over and over and over again. How many ways are there to say good? to say powerful? to say compelling? to say interesting or fascinating? How many ways to say I couldn't put it down?

Secrets. Lies. Shame. Guilt. Fear. Suspicion. Regret. Anger. Distrust. Danger. Murder.

Diamonds in the Shadow is the story of the Finch family. A dad, a mom, a brother, and a sister. The narrative is told mainly through the eyes of these two siblings. Although not exclusively through their eyes. The Finch family is taking in a refugee family from Africa. Their church is sponsoring this family.

In Africa, five people got on a plane. In America, twelve people attended a committee meeting at the Finches' house.

Jared is a typical semi-rebellious boy. He's so not interested in African refugees. He's hostile to the idea that some African refugee is going to be sharing his room, using his things, getting in his way, going to his school, etc. Mopsy, the girl, (I believe it is a nick name) is ecstatic about taking in the family. She hopes and she prays that the refugee family will have a girl. She thinks it would be awful if she didn't get the chance to share her room, share her life, make a new best friend.

The novel is all about relationships. Exploring relationships. Exploring ethics. The church committee did say that there are no "good guys" in refugee camps. That most people fleeing were not strictly innocent. Everything about war--about civil war--about terrorists and warfare--is complicated. The refugees are supposed to be screened, monitored, checked, but even so...

One of the things I loved about this novel was the interaction between the two families. During the course of a month or possibly two months, everyone is different, every life has been affected. The family dynamics have been restructured, redefined. Jared began out with very little understanding, very little compassion. He saw the world in terms of black and white and right and wrong. When I say black and white I'm not speaking racially or culturally. But rather I'm speaking of morally, ethically. He thought things were always clearly one way or the other. Nothing fuzzy, nothing iffy, nothing gray, nothing cloudy.

I think this one would be a great novel to read and discuss as part of a group--whether a book club, a class, or a family. It was both thought-provoking and suspenseful. It had action, but it had depth and substance as well. The characters were well-developed for the most part. (With Mr. Finch being the least developed, the least "present" to the situation, to the action.) I do recommend this one.


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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
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4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
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