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Diamond Boy

Review

Diamond Boy

Since there is no work for Patson Moyo's father in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, 15-year-old Patson and his family head out to the diamond fields in Marange, hoping to accrue quick cash so they can return to their hometown. But life at Marange is not what Patson expects, especially when he learns that miners have to turn over all diamonds that they find to James Banda, Patson's uncle. To further complicate matters, chaos erupts when the Zimbabwe Army and Air Force abruptly infiltrate and take control of the diamond hills and Patson's uncle. The turbulence not only separates Patson from his father and sister, but now he is in possession of three girazis (pure diamond stones), which he secretly stows away. A strange turn of events earns Patson freedom to leave the camp, but at a terrible price. Nonetheless, Patson is determined to reunite with his family, no matter what it takes.

Inspired by a letter from one of his young readers, multi-novelist Michael Williams has taken a few characters, particularly Patson, from one of his previous books to create the dangerous world of diamond mining. Williams's first-person narrative is replete with well-developed characters placed within historical environs. Williams aptly interweaves vital information about the Zimbabwe diamond fields and land mines into the story, and also experiments with format --- scenes are interspersed with Patson's handwritten diary entries and texts from his friend and his sister.

 

Williams's first-person narrative is replete with well-developed characters placed within historical environs.

Undoubtedly, Patson is Williams's featured character. Patson’s experiences immediately catapult him into adulthood as he is faced with one dangerous circumstance after the other. By the end of the book, Patson is a changed person, earmarking him as quite a dynamic character. Amid a handful of notorious leaders, such as his uncle and Commander Jesus, Patson is surrounded by a slew of foiled characters (including Kamba and Chipo) who force him to face his fears while both protected and guided by a select supporting cast, such as the hideous looking Boubacar.

Key to Williams's plot is how he skillfully captures the culture and mannerisms of the people who are caught up in greed during the mid-to-late 2000s diamond mining rush. Williams's narrative is sated with Zimbabwean language that is easy to follow because of its continual recurrence coupled with a glossary of terms. But it does not stop there. Williams carefully interweaves imagery that aptly portrays the varied landscape and food from Zimbabwe to South Africa. In addition to a glossary, Williams's fast-paced storyline closes with pertinent historical information.

DIAMOND BOY is a poignant and gut-wrenching story earmarked for youth, and definitely one novel that is a must read for both home and school.

Reviewed by Reviewed by Anita Lock on January 8, 2015

Diamond Boy
by Michael Williams

  • Publication Date: April 5, 2016
  • Genres: Adventure, Thriller, Young Adult 13+
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0316320684
  • ISBN-13: 9780316320689