Diamond Boy
by Williams, Michael

After soldiers arrive in the Marange district of Zimbabwe where he is working in the diamond mines, Patson goes to South Africa to find his sister and change his life.

<b>Michael Williams</b> is a writer of plays, musicals, operas, and novels, and is the Managing Director of Cape Town Opera in South Africa. He is the author of several books, including the highly praised young adult novels <i>Crocodile Burning</i> and <i>Now Is the Time for Running</i>. He has written operas for young people based on African mythology as well as the libretti for symphonic operas that have premiered around the world. He finds writing fiction to be the perfect antidote to the drama of keeping an opera company alive in Africa.

When Patson's impoverished Zimbabwean family travels to their country's Marange diamond fields in search of a new life, nothing but trouble awaits them. The father's promised job as a teacher doesn't materialize, and both he and Patson find themselves working as miners. Their lives are suddenly at further risk when the military assumes control of the fields. Patson flees and steps on a land mine, losing most of his left leg. Still, against all odds, he must journey to South Africa to rescue his little sister, who has been abducted. In hot pursuit is his bÍte noire, Commander Jesus, head of the forces that took over the mines and murdered hundreds of miners in the process. Why the evil commander is pursuing Patson can't be revealed here, but suffice it to say, high stakes are involved. Williams' fast-paced, tension-packed story is filled with cliff-hangers, perils, and improbabilities that are occasionally overwhelming and push the story, at times, dangerously close to melodrama. In the end, though, this is a satisfying and eminently readable novel from the author of Crocodile Burning (1992). Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

In this sprawling, messy but compelling epic, a teenager and his family join other desperate Zimbabweans seeking a future in Marange's diamond mines. Patson and his little sister, Grace, don't want to leave Bulawayo, but hyperinflation has decimated the family's income. Their stepmother, Sylvia, nags their schoolteacher father, Joseph, into moving the family to Marange, where her brother James controls a diamond-mining syndicate. Unaware of the region's chaotic violence, they survive the journey only with help from an enigmatic Congolese. James welcomes his sister, while housing the rest of the family in a stifling, smelly tobacco shed. Joseph's promised teaching position proves illusory-there's no school. Mining's the only job, and it's mandatory. Hiding their finds from James means trouble, yet many miners try, including the youth syndicate Patson joins. His gentle, broken father doesn't share his fantasies of striking it rich. Brutal mayhem, already the norm, increas es when soldiers arrive, commanded by a vicious sadist. Lacking the compact power of its 2011 companion novel, Now Is the Time for Running, this tale is operatic in scope and intensity (no accident-Williams directs the Capetown Opera). Horrific events proliferate, generating a kind of sympathetic PTSD in readers. What keeps them engaged is concern for Patson and those he loves in a world that's all too real. A haunting, harrowing tale guaranteed to give "bling" a whole new meaning. (author notes, glossary). (Fiction. 12-18) Copyright Kirkus 2014 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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