Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Diamonds in the Shadow

I'm having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit this year. Yes, I know it's only Nov. 28th, but for most of the world the race is on. I've been Christmas shopping since early October, so I'm almost done, just need to finish up Doogie, Mia, and Jesse. I've been checking out lots of Christmas CDs from the library, but only Jesse, Molly, and Doogie listen to them. I know I need to get started on my Christmas cards, especially because I plan to stamp them this year, but I can't seem to get a fire lit under my bum to get me going. The decorations for the house have been sitting in the living room since Saturday, and by now the boxes are starting to become clutter collectors. Maybe Molly's Christmas concert will jump start me. Advent begins on Sunday in the church season, and I am in deep need of the King to come.

Diamonds in the Shadow
by Caroline B. Cooney is the story of the African refugee Amabo family and their hosts the Finch family. The Finch family agrees to take on the refugees after an apartment rented by the church for them falls through. Jared, the eldest son, is disgusted to have to share his room with a complete stranger, as well as his home. Mopsy, the eleven-year old daughter, can't wait for the Amabos to arrive in hopes that their daughter will be the sister she's longed for. But when the Amabos arrive, things aren't quite what they seem. The parents ignore their teenage "children". Mattu, the boy, is eloquent and immediately falls in love with the opportunities and excess of American culture. Alake, the girl, is oddly silent and unkept. No one notices the girl's distress except for Mopsy who takes the African under her wing and decides to fix her. The Amabos are hiding many secrets that could endanger not only themselves but the Finches as well. This was my first Caroline B. Cooney book; she's one of my daughter's favorite authors, and after reading this book I can see why. Her portrayal of Jared as the typical teen is uncannily accurate: he's selfish and narcissistic one moment and compassionate and generous the next. He's the only one to look beneath the surface of the Amabos and see the lies hiding there. Mopsy is very naive and innocent, and many in her life take that for immaturity, but when she decides to love Alake, she becomes the only link the saves their entire family. Alake is hiding a terrible secret; her "family" knows, and they shun her for it. In America, she attends church and begins to learn about God, but the more she learns, the more she believes that what she's done is unforgivable. The culture shock experienced by both families is realistic and profound. I was impressed at the depth to the plot and issues addressed. When my daughter, Molly, finished reading it, we talked a bit about the choices both families made. It made her consider what she would do had she been in Alake's place. Any book that opens up communication between a parent and child gets my vote as a terrific read! The final scene between Alake and her mother brought tears to my eyes. It, as well as the rest of the book, was powerfully written.

My contest is still open until midnight Friday to win one of two free copies of For Parents Only by Shaunti Feldhahn and Lisa A. Rice. Just drop an email to and let me know you're interested.

Today's pic is of Molly and Mia. It's one of the first I took with the new camera. Molly's sporting the new Christmas pjs I bought her on Black Friday.