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Diamonds in the Shadow

Diamonds in the Shadow

4.1 29
by Caroline B. Cooney

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A powerful novel about the difficulty of doing what is right.

Through their love for people, yet ignorance of the unknown, the Finch Family has joined alongside their church and opened their home to an African refugee family who are moving to Connecticut. The Amabo family of four– Andre, Celestine, Mattu, and Alake: father, mother, and teenage son


A powerful novel about the difficulty of doing what is right.

Through their love for people, yet ignorance of the unknown, the Finch Family has joined alongside their church and opened their home to an African refugee family who are moving to Connecticut. The Amabo family of four– Andre, Celestine, Mattu, and Alake: father, mother, and teenage son and daughter– arrive in great hope as they have escaped the tyranny of Africa. What the Finch Family doesn’t know is that there are not just four refugees in this Amabo family, but five.

As the Amabo family, who have suffered unimaginable horrors, begin to adjust to a life of plenty in the Finches' suburban Connecticut home, and the Finches are learning new lessons of “The Golden Rule”. The life adjustment for all seems flawless.

But the fifth refugee does not believe in good will. This lawless rebel has managed to enter America undetected. And the Amabo family has something of his--something that they agreed to carry into the country for him.

When Jared, the oldest Finch son, realizes that the good guys are not always innocent, he must make a decision that could change the fates of both the Finches and the Amabos. In this uncommonly penetrating story, Caroline B. Cooney presents a fresh perspective on how doing what is right can be most difficult.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Evangelical Christian author Davis (Transparent) has created a sobering yet thoroughly satisfying primer on women's friendships. Davis, vice president of marketing/development for her father, who heads Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, presents a bold and touching view of the whys and wherefores of female relationships. She offers her own friendships as illustrations of the types of friendships women keep. Chapter by chapter, Davis discusses varying roles women adopt; how space between two people is sometimes healthy; when-or if-confrontation is called for; the possibilities of circles of friends and their survival rate; and much more. Readers will find the author's observations distinctive and instructive; they afford women the opportunity to review their own past and present friendships. While Davis's text is thoroughly sound and biblically on track, an overall sad note is woven into her conclusions about women and their ways with one another. (July 21)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Pat Trattles
Jared Finch is a typical teenage boy growing up in a privileged Connecticut neighborhood. Mattu Amabo is a teenage refugee escaping a life of terror in Africa. The two boys are thrown together when the Finches agree to host the Amabo family temporarily until they can find permanent housing in America. Jared's younger sister, Mopsy, is excited about welcoming Alake, Mattu's sister, into her life, but to say Jared is less than thrilled with the idea is an understatement. And the more Jared gets to know the Amabo family, the more things just don't add up. The Amabos don't talk to each other much, don't touch or hug, and don't seem to even care much for each other. They act more like four strangers than family. Meanwhile, a fifth refugee has entered the country undetected. He is after the Amabo family, and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Told in alternating points of view among the four youngsters and the lawless fifth refugee, this suspense-filled tale will keep readers engaged until the very end. Cooney has done an outstanding job of contrasting the horrors of African civil war with the relative abundance and complacency of suburban America. Although a work of fiction, it is the kind of story that will give readers pause to consider the world outside their neighborhood comfort zone, making it a great complement to high school social studies curricula and an important addition to high school reading lists. Reviewer: Pat Trattles
VOYA - Brenna Shanks
Jared Finch is less than thrilled when his parents volunteer to take in a refugee family from Africa. Told in advance by the refugee society that "there are no good guys" in African civil wars, Jared expects the worst from the Amabo family (parents with two children), whom they have agreed to host. Unbeknownst to the Americans, there is a fifth refugee, Victor, arriving with the Amabos. The Amabos, all hiding secrets of their own, are afraid of this refugee. Victor trails after them, seeking something that the family carries. He is not a refugee as they are, but a former soldier looking for the Blood Diamonds that the Amabos have smuggled into America. Told from various points of view, this narrative is occasionally awkward, but the mystery of the Amabos' background and their connection to Victor help lead the reader along. Surly, narrow-minded Jared and his rambunctious, nanve sister, Mopsy, gradually round out into fuller characters as their African counterparts, Mattu and Alake, reveal their histories. Their ineffectual parents (at least they seem so when observed through the eyes of the other characters) remain somewhat shallow and distant throughout. Religion, charity, and humanity are central themes. The myriad of African problems might strike a chord with an unfamiliar audience, but they come across a bit heavyily at times. Standard fare, this book might appeal to fans of Cooney's other thrillers or to libraries looking for issue books.
School Library Journal

Gr 6 Up
When the Finches take in a church-sponsored refugee family from war-torn Sierra Leone, teenage Jared is annoyed that he has to share his room with Mattu, who is his age. Sixth-grader Mopsy, however, is thrilled to embrace Alake and wants to turn her into a "best" friend. Alake doesn't talk, barely eats, and is plagued by nightmares. Meanwhile, Kara Finch takes the Amabo parents under her wing, teaching them about conveniences such as microwaves. The family brings no luggage except for two boxes of cremated remains. Through snooping, Jared and Mopsy find uncut diamonds in the ashes. Unlike their parents, they realize that something is amiss in this family. The Amabos do not talk, or touch, or seem to care about each other. Cooney brilliantly contrasts the horror of Africa's civil wars with the overwhelming abundance and naivety of American suburban life. Jared's narcissism, selfishness, and racism disintegrate when he confronts true evil. How families mysteriously bond and care for one another is examined under the dramatic circumstances of two disparate groups trying to make things work. When Jared learns that Mattu never heard of the Holocaust, he is astonished. But, Mattu tells him, "We have those in Africa. I have been in one." Indeed, more than 60 years later, we are learning about ever-new Holocausts.
—Lillian HeckerCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
Another teeth-clenching thriller from Cooney, this one with a social conscience. A middle-class family in Connecticut agrees through their church to shelter an African refugee family, never noticing abundant clues that the Amabos aren't a real family and that they have a dangerous past that has followed them from Africa. Cooney builds suspense by telling readers more than the almost incredibly naive Finch family knows, setting up plot points wherein they'll know just what's going to happen, and then fooling them. She highlights the horrible conditions that have forced the decent Amabos to become less than honest as the looming danger of the real villain, on his way to collecting uncut diamonds the Amabos have smuggled into the country, moves the story forward. Affections, loyalties and a basic Christian message of love and redemption emerge as Cooney tempers her readers' anxiety with a measure of understanding while building to her climactic showdown. (author's note) (Fiction. YA)
From the Publisher
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, September 17, 2007:
"Crackling language and nailbiting cliffhangers provide an easy way into the novel's big ideas, transforming topics that can often seem distant and abstract into a grippingly immediate reading experience."

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

In America, twelve people attended a committee meeting at the Finches' house. This was not unusual, but Jared Finch didn't see why he was required to attend.
Like all the causes Jared's mother and father took up--raising a zillion dollars for a church addition or tutoring grown-ups who couldn't read--bringing refugees from Africa was completely not of interest to Jared.
His mother and father seemed to be avoiding his eye, and even staying on the far side of the room. Even more suspicious, when the minister finished his opening prayer, he said, "Jared and Mopsy, thank you for coming."
Everybody beamed at Jared and Mopsy. Twelve adults were grateful to have the most annoying little sister in Connecticut at their meeting? Smiling at Jared, who prided himself on being a rather annoying teenager?
"The apartment we found for our refugee family fell through," Dr. Nickerson told the committee. "We don't have a place for them to live and the four of them are arriving tomorrow."
Jared Finch could not care less where some refugee family lived.
"Drew and Kara Finch have generously volunteered to take the family in," said Dr. Nickerson.
The room applauded.
Jared stared at his parents in horror. The refugees were coming here?
His little sister, a mindlessly happy puppy of a kid, cried out in delight. If Mopsy had ever had an intelligent thought in her life, she kept it to herself. "Yay!" cried Mopsy. "It'll be like sleepovers every night."
Jared gagged.
"You see, Jared, we have a lovely guest suite," said his mother, as if he didn't live here and wouldn't know, "where the parents can stay and have their own bathroom."
This implied that there were kids who would not be staying in the guest suite. So they would be staying where, exactly?
"Your room and Mopsy's are so spacious, Jared darling," his mother went on. "And you each have two beds, for when your friends spend the night. And your own bathrooms! It's just perfect, isn't it?"
Jared's mother and father had volunteered his bedroom for a bunch of African refugees? And not even asked him? "I'm supposed to share my bedroom with some stranger?" he demanded. Jared did not share well. It had been a problem since nursery school.
Mrs. Lane, a woman Jared especially loathed, because he was fearful that Mopsy would grow up to be just like her--stout and still giggling--said excitedly, "That's why your family's offer is so magnificent, Jared."
Jared figured her last name was actually Lame.
"You will guide and direct young people who would otherwise be confused and frightened by the new world in which they find themselves," cried Mrs. Lame.
She definitely had somebody else in mind. Jared did not plan to guide and direct anybody. Jared's bedroom was his fortress. It had his music, his video games, his television and his computer. It was where he made his phone calls. As for Africa, Jared knew nothing about the entire continent except what he'd seen on nature shows, where wild animals were always migrating or else eating each other. But about Africans themselves, aside from the occasional Jeep driver, TV had nothing to say. And there was always more important stuff on the news than Africa, like weather or celebrities.
Jared would be forced to hang out with some needy non-English-speaking person in clothes that didn't fit? Escort that person into his own school? Act glad? "I decline," said Jared.
"The church signed a contract, Jared," said Dr. Nickerson. "We are responsible for this family."
"I didn't sign anything," said Jared. "I don't have a responsibility."
The committee glared at Jared.
Jared glared right back. They weren't volunteering to share their bedrooms. No, they could force two handy kids to do it. "My sister and I are the only ones who actually have to do any sharing? You guys get to contribute your old furniture or worthless televisions that you didn't want anyway for when these guys get their own place, but meanwhile Mopsy and I have to take them in?" He hoped to make the committee feel guilty. Everybody did look guilty but also really relieved, because of course they didn't want to share a bedroom either.
"It'll be so wonderful!" cried Mopsy, hugging herself. "Is there going to be a girl who can be my best friend?"
It was getting worse. People would expect Jared to be best friends with this person who would invade his life. "What went wrong with the rental?" asked Jared, thinking he would just kill whoever was getting the apartment, thus freeing it up again for these refugees.
"The owner's eighty-year-old grandmother, who's blind, is moving in with her caregiver."
Oh, please. That was such a lie. How many eighty-year-old blind grandmothers suddenly had to move in with their caregiver? The owners were probably remodeling so they could sell the place for a million dollars instead.
"What are we supposed to do, Jared?" asked Dr. Nickerson in his most religious voice. "Abandon four people on the sidewalk?"
They'd been abandoned anyway; that was what it meant to be a refugee. Jared opened his mouth to say so, but a movement from his father caught his eye. Dad was sagging in his chair, deaf and blind to the meeting. Having a family of refugees in the house probably wasn't his choice either; Mom had saddled him with it. He wasn't on this committee, and the last committee on which Dad had served had gone bad. His co-chairman had turned out to be a felon and a bum. But Jared had more important things to worry about right now. "How long are these guys supposed to live here?" he demanded.
"We don't know," admitted the minister. "This is an expensive town. We're going to have trouble finding a low-cost rent for people earning minimum wage. We probably found the only place there is, and now it's gone. We'll have to look in the cities nearby--New London, New Haven. And probably in bad neighborhoods. It's a problem we didn't anticipate."
Jared never prayed, because the idea of a loving God seemed out of sync with the facts of the world. Nevertheless, Jared prayed now. Please, God, don't let there be a boy in this family. Make Mopsy do all the sharing. I can squeeze my extra twin bed into her room. I'll even move it cheerfully. "What do we know about these guys?" he said.
"Very little." Dr. Nickerson waved a single sheet of paper. He handed it to the person sitting farthest away from Jared, ensuring that Jared would be the last to know the grim truth. "That's why we've gathered here tonight. Let me introduce our representative from the Refugee Aid Society, Kirk Crick."
What kind of name was that? It sounded like a doll Mopsy would collect. And what was up with Kirk Crick that he couldn't even photocopy enough pages for everybody to have one? It didn't exactly give Jared faith in the guy's organizational skills.

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

Caroline B. Cooney is the bestselling and award-winning author of numerous books for young people. She makes her home in both Westbrook, CT and New York City.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Diamonds in the Shadow 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this because it was one of the 30 books on the battle of the books list and i read it in 24 hours. The writing was a little rocky and jumbled in the beginning, which is the only reason i took off a star, but the story rapidly gets better the further you read. This book is moving, suspensful, and overall just a clever story and a fast read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bet we have all met someone who is prejudice. Our county hasn't been free from racism for a little bit over fifty years. It is amazing how prejudice some people can be. In Diamonds in the Shadow Jared Finch is a teenage boy who is very racist but he doesn't realize it until his mom signs up for his family to take in a family of refugees. This book taught me to never judge a book by its cover. This book at a first glace looks like a boring book but if you read past the first chapter you can easily get "sucked in" to the book. This book is a pretty easy read. If you want to really comprehend the book I would recommend going to an "Invisible Children" meeting. Invisible children are kids in Africa who have nothing. They don't have parents, they don't have family, and they don't even have a home. This book helped me realize how good my life is even with a broken arm. A refugee in this book got his hands cut off. My arm will heal but you don't grow back cut off hands. I can't even begin to imagine life with out hands. Think of how hard it would be to run the mouse to scroll down to read this review or to type this review or to even read the book. This book taught me how lucky I am to live in America where I don't have to worry about being put into a children army. I can sleep in my own comfy bed in my own house where I know I am safe. Think have you ever had to worry about being blown-up by a terrorist or soldiers coming smashing into your home and taking you brother and sister. People in Africa have to worry about this every day. Blood diamonds are a major part in this story. So in conclusion you are just going to have to read the book to find what happens to Jared, Mopsy, the Aboos, and Victor.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book gives an intriging way to look at problems in Africa. I recomend it.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I got this book from my school libary for battle of the books. I gobbled it whole... i loved this book.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im in 7th grade a joined the battle of the books team at cedar creek middle school. This was on my list and i read it in two days!! I love it you should read it !:) - Sarah Booth -
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very suitable book for young adults/teenagers and also a good read aloud book.This is one of my classical favirites. I highly recomend this book to teenagers/young adult age hroup
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DavidwithaB More than 1 year ago
"Diamonds in the Shadow" is a fantastic book from Caroline Cooney that is full of many great elements. First off it has a wonderful storyline with an American family taking in a refugee family from Africa and trying to help them adapt to life here in the United States. Secondly, it has great characters. The American family with Jared (who does NOT want the family to live with them), Mopsy (who DOES want the family to live with them), the dad (who is having issues at work), the mom (who is loving having a new family to nurture) and then the African family - mom, dad, brother, sister (who is like a zombie). Except this new family seems a little odd to Jared, what's the deal? Next, the mystery element... can Jared figure out what is going on with this new family before it is too late? Are they putting his family in danger? Are they who they appear to be? Who is the other African that got off the same plane they did and why is he looking for them? I really enjoyed following Jared and Mopsy as they try to piece everything together. And the conclusion was fantastic and had me madly turning pages to see how in the end everything would be resolved.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ReviewYourBook.com More than 1 year ago
The Finch family open their home to the Amabo family, refugees from Africa. The refugees suffered horrible atrocities in their homeland. Adjusting to American culture was difficult. There is more than meets the eye when it comes to the Amabo. The Finche's do not know they agreed to carry diamonds into the country for a fifth refugee who is a soldier intent on violence. The Finch's oldest son Jared realizes "something isn't right" and must decide what to do with the information. Who should he tell? Will he help or make matters worse? Diamonds In The Shadow is a good read. Caroline B. Cooney mixes suspense and intrigue to form a good plot. Diamonds InThe Shadow is thought provoking. It shines light on the plight of the refugees. Cooney makes the reader revaluate their life. Diamonds In The Shadow will make you grateful for all you have.
Smilingsally More than 1 year ago
I loved this Young Adult Fiction laced with suspense! The characters are fun to meet and provoke questions as the pages are turned. Jared, an eye-rolling high school aged teen, seems to be both embarrassed and impressed at the same time by his parents. Will he become responsible enough for driving lessons--ever? Mopsy, his sixth grade sister, with her boundless energy reminds me of a family member I know. Change her name and you could be reading about one of my granddaughters. Will she affect the changes she feels are necessary for Alake's assimilation into this new life? And what is wrong with Alake? Mattu's dignified manners and precise speech reveal a staunch young man who has lived through too much. What could be in the two boxes he carries from Africa to America? Why not revisit the past? Are the refugee parents as emotionally removed as they appear? Who is that fifth refugee, and what are his plans? The grocery store scene impressed me. To hear someone gasp at the display of fruit and vegetables and then hear that person express a goal of working amongst all of this food, reminds me to be thankful for my undeserved heritage. Written in first person narrative, at times the voice shifts as a different character shares his perspective. This could be a bit confusing if it is the first time a reader experiences this style of writing; however, it is top-notch writing. Overall, this is a very good adventure story for teens of either gender.
kherbrand More than 1 year ago
When the apartment that the Amabo family was to stay in falls through - Jared is forced to share his bedroom with Mutto - their teenage son. He is not very happy about this -not happy at all. Mopsy, Jared's younger sister, is overjoyed at the fact that their teenage daughter Alake will be bunking with her. The Amabo family are refugees from Africa. They have received passage to the states and are being sponsered by Jared's church. They will help to give them training and find jobs - but there is trouble from the start. The biggest being that the fifth refugee on the plane doesn't like not being in control. Then Andre Amabo, the father, has had his hands chopped off during the war in Africa - one at the wrist, the other at the elbow. Alake doesn't speak - and doesn't appear to hear either. She has to be prodded to even eat. And what is up with Mattu and the two cardboard boxes that contain the ashes of his grandparents? Jarod doesn't believe in the same God that his parents do, and that the Amabo's seem to also. He feels praying is a waste of time. But while the Amabo's are staying with them, his reality begins to change. He finds that doing things for other people really isn't that much trouble. He discovers that his younger sister isn't so annoying, but has great insight and can even be trusted. And he discovers what secrets the ashes of Mattu's grandparents contain. What he does with that information will decide the fate of both families - but will he make the right choice? This would be a great book for middle schoolers and maybe early high school. It is well written, but seems a little simplistic for older than that. I would not recommend it for younger thatn middle school because of some of the violence that it describes. People are not who or what you expect in this book - and that helped to make it a quite a page turner. I was able to read it in just two sittings.
Novel_Teen_Book_Reviews More than 1 year ago
Review by Jill Williamson

Jared is annoyed. He gets that people like to be do-gooders in the world, but why his family? And why dangerous African refugees? As he understands it, there are no good guys in a civil war, so how was he supposed to get excited about sharing his bedroom with a teenage soldier who may or may not have killed?

Yet his parents sign up to house a family of four African refugees. The dad has no hands, the daughter is a mute, and none of them have ever used a phone, gone to a supermarket, or driven a car. Yet Jared can¿t help but be impacted by what he learns of this family¿s life. And when a dangerous fifth refugee finds the family, what will Jared do when he realizes that the good guys are not always innocent?

This was a fascinating read. I knew little about African refugees and I thank Ms. Cooney for shedding light on the subject. This book was fabulous, first from Jared¿s realistic and hysterical teenage boy voice, to the awe America provided for the Africans, to the suspenseful plot with the fifth refugee. This book is gripping and really makes you think for days. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago