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Diamonds in the Shadow
Delacorte
Random House, 2007
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Diamonds in the Shadow

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. (School Library Journal)

Teaching Guide available

Awards and Recognition
Bank Street Josette Frank Award Nominee
Christopher Award 2008
Edgar Award Nominee for Best Young Adult Mystery 2008 Nebraska Golden Sower Nominee 2010
Junior Library Guild selection
Kentucky Bluegrass Award Nominee 2009
Missouri Truman Award Nominee 2009-2010
North Carolina Young Adult Book Award Nominee 2008-2009
Notable Social Studies Trade Book 2008
Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Award Nominee Oklahoma Sequoya Book Award Nominee
The idea behind ... Diamonds in the Shadow
Several years ago, all the Congregational churches in Connecticut decided to take in refugees from Africa, and my church sponsored a family of four Africans from Sierra Leone. They lived with me for the first month, a riveting experience for all of us in the African family and on our church committee. The mom is now an American citizen. I’m so proud of her.

Diamonds in the Shadow comes from that experience, but it’s completely made up and has no resemblance to my real family. It involves an African family with fake papers, a teenage boy smuggling blood diamonds, and a church which may have sponsored people who should never have been allowed into America.

Reviews
“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.”
“...tension mounts in a novel that combines thrilling suspense and a story about innocence lost”
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