Diamonds in the Shadow

Diamonds in the Shadow

by Caroline B. Cooney

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Overview

THE FINCH FAMILY did not know that five refugees landed from Africa on the day they went to the airport to welcome the family sponsored by their church. The Finch family only knew about the four refugees they were meeting - Andre, Celestine, Mattu, and Alake - mother, father, teenage son and daughter.Soon Jared realizes that the good guys are not always innocent, and he must make a decision that could change the fate of both families. This story presents many points of view and a fresh perspective on doing the right thing.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400074242
Publisher: The Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/17/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 186,685
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.52(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Caroline B. Cooney is the author of many acclaimed books for young adults, including the Janie Quartet featuring The Face on the Milk Carton. She lives in Madison, Connecticut, and New York City.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


IN AFRICA, FIVE PEOPLE GOT on a plane.
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.

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Diamonds in the Shadow 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 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.
JRlibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jared and his little sister Mopsy are American children whose parents decide to host a family of African refugees. Jared is less than thrilled at the idea of sharing all that he has with Mattu, the teenage boy who is so enthralled with school. The refugees find everything about America overwhelming and unfamiliar. Jared and his sister are a bit suspicious of the family, but admire their hard-working attitude.Cooney's novel does a great job of illustrating some African issues; poverty, civil wars, and the life of a refugee, and making us think about some of the things we take for granted.My only criticism was the ending which was too convenient and too perfect for belief.
59Square on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I had begun reading this book through the Chapter-a-Day program, and thought it seemed interesting, so I checked it out. It is an interesting combination of Christianity and the refugee situation. Jared and his family volunteer to host a refugee family from Africa whose apartment has fallen through right before they are scheduled to arrive. When the Amabo family shows up at the airport, they do not seem like they have been described, and more troubling, they don¿t seem to relate to each other very well. When the truth about the family comes out, it is very terrible, but pretty simplistic too. There is a lot of killing and torture described, but it is mostly off-camera, so it isn¿t gory. All of the main characters have very simple motives , and the American family is depicted as having not a lot of ambition. Jared, the main teenage character, does some research about the blood diamonds the family has smuggled in, but ultimately returns the diamond he has found without doing anything more about it. The book can be confusing because it is so simplified ¿ for instance, the reality of the refugee camp is described, but there is no real explanation of why people would end up in these camps. However, I would hope that this book would cause teens to get involved in this cause, or to get their churches involved. There is an unnecessary side plot about a family in the church who has embezzled money from the church coffers ¿ makes this story more dramatic, but it takes the focus off the refugees.
MrsDayClass on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It was interesting and overall good.
TigerLMS on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jared is not at all happy that his parents have volunteered their house-- and namely his bedroom-- to help out a family of African refugees fleeing a bloody civil war. Jared knows things were rough for the family getting out of Africa, but he despises the fact that he has to share his personal space with a total stranger. Life in America is a shock to the African family, but Jared soon realizes that not everything is as it seems. For instance, he becomes increasingly certain that the family of four barely knows one another-- and there are probably more reasons for them hiding than just a fear of lurking lions. Author Caroline B. Cooney has written a terse thriller that leaves the reader a trail of clues as to what's going to happen by the end of this short book. Like other Cooney books, there are some social issues and family drama involved in the story. We really only get to know Jared, his 6th grade sister Mopsy, and the two African children Mattu and Alake, and even they feel a bit flat at times. However, this is a good book to introduce students to a topic that doesn't get a tremendous amount of press (African civil war and its impact on human lives). I recommend Diamonds in the Shadow for students in perhaps 5th through 10th grades. It will appeal to boys and girls equally.
cestovatela on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jared is a typical American teenager who hates homework, his little sister, and sharing his possessions. When he learns that his family will play host to 4 African refugees, he is appalled by the prospect of surrendering half his room to a teenage boy he's never even met. As soon as the family arrives, Jared knows that sharing their lives will be even more difficult than his charitable, religious family imagines. Not only are the refugees perplexed by doorbells, juice cartons, and telephones, they also barely seem to be a family. Yet, even as Jared and his younger sister become suspicious of the refugees' story, they come to admire and even love the hard-working, long-suffering people sharing their home. I appreciated several aspects of the novel. Until the very end, it avoids the type of soap opera drama that would have poisoned the reality of the narrative; instead, it quietly demonstrates that evils considered fantastic in America are realities in some parts of Africa. The book accomplishes this through dozens of tiny, human details, like a teenage refugee amazed that Americans can ignore a speeding police car -- "he could not imagine a world where people could afford not to know the location of armed men," the author writes in an early scene of the novel. Details like this one allowed me to overlook the action-packed, schmaltzy climax, which suggests that the American Dream comes true instantly and magically true for everyone, complete with becoming a local hero, surviving a near-death experience, and getting a puppy all in one day. This over-the-top ending is the only place where the book would appeal only to the young adult audience for which it is intended; even as an adult reader, I sometimes put the book down between chapters to ponder its revelations about the nature of evil and the things Americans take for granted. Although I hope to find an adult novel that deals with this subject matter a bit more maturely, I would still recommend this even to other grown-up readers.
KarenBall on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jared Finch's family has agreed to house a refugee family from Africa. The Amabo family is being sponsored by Jared's church, and they will need a place to stay and get acquainted with American culture and how things work. When Jared learns that the Amabo's son Mattu has never heard of the Holocaust, he is amazed and explains. Mattu replies, "We have those in Africa. I have been in one." Jared notices problems immediately and becomes suspicious that perhaps this "family" is not actually a family. The Amabos do not talk or touch, and seem to care little for one another. The only belongings they brought were two boxes of cremated remains, and when Jared and his sister get nosy, they discover uncut diamonds in the ashes. The diamonds are meant to pay for guns through another refugee from whom they have escaped -- but he is hunting for them and danger appears with him. Caroline Cooney has created a mystery based on current events, including the use of "blood diamonds" to pay for African civil wars (weapons, armies, violence), and child soldiers.
adromero on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The story centers on Jared and his family as they assist an African refugee family. The African family needs assistance with housing so they can make a new start in America, but they harbor a secret. This secret not only puts their family in jeopardy, but Jared¿s family as well. This work is a thriller that will keep the readers attention. However, what I found most significant about this novel was the issues raised by Cooney dealing with how we perceive ¿others¿ and topics related to the strife taking place in parts of Africa and the impact that has on peoples lives.
smilingsally on LibraryThing 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.
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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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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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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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