DIAMONDS IN THE DUST by Shirley Mowat Tucker


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A white woman saves a family of South African orphans from those who would prey upon them.

Opening with a chase and a violent thunderstorm, Tucker’s novel immediately grabs the reader’s attention. Ida Morgan rescues a young child from a storm-swollen river and, in helping the girl, inadvertently places herself in varying degrees of danger. Leaving the gated safety of her compound, she ventures away from the city and into the extreme squalor where the orphan and her siblings live in an abandoned dwelling. Along the way, Ida dodges a riot of drunken young men who throw rocks at cars and beat anyone unlucky enough to cross their path (they beat Ida’s hired hand and leave him for dead). She encounters children so hungry they pick dry porridge from the ground because there is nothing else to eat, finds a child who is ill due to a lack of sanitized drinking water and helps the children escape an organized ring of men who rape children in the belief that children will not pass along the AIDS virus. As Ida brings the children back to her home, she has encounters with the local police, who seem to care little for her plight in dealing with the children, and a social system so burdened with orphans infected with AIDS that it is almost paralyzed. Throughout most the novel, the Christian element is subtle to the point of seeming almost nonexistent, but it becomes more pronounced as the story progresses and the reader learns of a tragic personal connection between Ida and one of the men arrested for beating her hired hand. Additionally, a subplot involving an abusive, racist neighbor brings depth and crushing reality to a work already laden with trauma. Glimpses of culture and language throughout keep the novel feeling like the recounting of a situation with which the author is familiar.

An addictive storyline that pulls at the reader’s social conscience and sense of justice, delivered in an honest, humane manner.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0982277690
Page count: 184pp
Publisher: Athanatos
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2011


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