Patson Moyo is just an ordinary teenager, living in Bulawayo with his teacher dad and little sister, Grace. Life is tough – his father is paid in useless government money when he is paid at all, but they get by. But then one day, finally giving in to the hectoring demands of his second wife, Mr Moyo decides to move his family to Marange to be near her family. So begins a descent into terror as they find themselves caught up in the Great Marange Diamond Rush. The Mugabe government has promised diamonds for everyone, but instead of fortune, the Moyo family find terror, betrayal and the constant threat of death.
The harrowing story grips the reader by its emotional intensity. Told through the eyes of 15-year-old Patson, the story is structured using first person narrative, text messages between key characters and Patson’s journal entries. As the dark underbelly of the Zimbabwean diamond mining industry is gradually revealed in all its brutality, Patson finds himself having to confront the gnawing hunger of constant fear in order first to stay alive, and then to find his trafficked sister.
The story is a triumph of love, trust and friendship in the midst of betrayal, brutality and the total disregard for human life of a corrupt regime. But it is also realistic – Patson is resilient and he has to grow up fast during the course of the novel. He is, however, still a teenager, fighting against acceptance of the reality of his father’s death and dealing with situations that no 15 year old should ever have to witness. The tension that this creates within the character is palpable; a reflection of the tension inherent in the plot.
The book was inspired by a reader asking to know more about the world that the author had created in his previous novel, Now Is the Time for Running. Like its predecessor, this book is a gritty, truthful portrayal of contemporary Africa, informed by fact which is seamlessly woven into the narrative without intrusion. It makes compelling and highly recommended reading.