Diamond Boy

By: Michael Williams

Patson arrives at the Marange diamond fields with dreams of finding a girazi, a stone so valuable it can change his family's life. First, though, he must stay alive. Map. Author’s note. Information about the Marange diamond fields. Information about land mines. Glossary.

ISBN: 9780316320696

JLG Release: Jan 2015


Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Violence, Mild sexual themes, Allusions to prostitution
Topics: Survival , Diamond mines and mining , Shona (African people) , Zimbabwe

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Awards & Honors

VOYA’s Perfect Tens 2014; 2015 Finalist, Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award

Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Booklist, The Horn Book Magazine, The Horn Book Guide^, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly*, School Library Journal, Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)*

School Library Journal

Patson Moyo’s life is perfectly ordinary. He is on the cross-country team with his best friend, Sheena. His father, a teacher, is often a little dreamy but a wonderful storyteller. His perky little sister, Grace, loves to play games on his cell phone. Patson never would have guessed that his smart, university-graduate father, who had won the Patson Moyo’s life is perfectly ordinary. He is on the cross-country team with his best friend, Sheena. His father, a teacher, is often a little dreamy but a wonderful storyteller. His perky little sister, Grace, loves to play games on his cell phone. Patson never would have guessed that his smart, university-graduate father, who had won the Outstanding Teacher Award four years in a row, can barely make ends meet, due to government corruption and the massive devaluation of the Zimbabwean dollar. Egged on by Patson’s stepmother, Sylvia, the Moyos decide to improve their situation by traveling to Marage where Sylvia’s brother lives and it is claimed that there are “diamonds for everyone.” The power of Patson’s story is rooted in the very mundane rites of daily life that even modern American teenagers will find familiar—the emoticon-filled texting between Patson and his sister, the angst and anxiety of a kiss between friends—juxtaposed with the real and menacing danger of the brutal whims of corrupt army officers and traitorous fellow miners. Diamond Boy is a companion novel to Williams’s other work about war-torn Zimbabwe, Now Is the Time for Running (Little Brown, 2013). Readers of his past work will find a few familiar characters here, but even readers new to Williams’s fiction will be similarly engrossed by his deft, unflinching prose. Teens will be left haunted by Patson’s harsh yet essentially hopeful journey, where greed, despair, luck, and wonder intertwine on the diamond fields of Marage.—Evelyn Khoo Schwartz, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC

Horn Book

Formerly middle-class but now made destitute by Zimbabwe’s runaway inflation, Patson and his family leave Bulaway for a new life in Marange, where Patson’s stepmother has family. Her brother James Banda runs a syndicate, where thousands of poor miners pan for low-grade industrial diamonds, hoping to find finer gemstones, which they hand Formerly middle-class but now made destitute by Zimbabwe’s runaway inflation, Patson and his family leave Bulaway for a new life in Marange, where Patson’s stepmother has family. Her brother James Banda runs a syndicate, where thousands of poor miners pan for low-grade industrial diamonds, hoping to find finer gemstones, which they hand over to Banda in exchange for a tiny share of the profits. But when Patson’s family arrives in Marange after a harrowing journey, they find that the high school is closed and Patson’s father’s promised teaching position is gone; Patson and his father are forced to become miners for Banda. With so much money at stake, the diamond fields are a brutal, dangerous place where smugglers and contraband dealers trade lives for untold wealth, but the mines become even more dangerous when President Mugabe’s army takes over diamond production. Structuring his story around the 2008 Marange diamond field massacre, Williams tells a tale of grim inhumanity, but does so through a protagonist whose optimism falters only after he receives a life-altering injury. Williams’s portrayal of middle-class, cell phone–carrying African youth will give readers a different perspective on the modern continent, even as some of its people still cling to the belief in shavi, or luck granted by the ancestors. Patson’s shavi is strong, but the diamonds’ ability to either transform or destroy a life is something he continues to wrestle with through the very last page. anita l. burkam

Book Details

ISBN

9780316320696

First Release

January 2015

Genre

Fic

Dewey Classification

F

Trim Size

5 1/2" x 8 1/4"

Page Count

400

Accelerated Reader

Level 5.5; Points: 13;

Scholastic Reading Counts

Level 6.4; Points: 21;

Lexile

Level HL820L

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Little, Brown

Potentially Sensitive Areas

Strong language, Violence, Mild sexual themes, Allusions to prostitution

Topics

Survival, Diamond mines and mining, Shona (African people), Zimbabwe,

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