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Reviewed by Jose Cornelio for Readers' Favorite
Gift of Diamonds by Roberta Seret is a compelling narrative with strong historical undertones and a story with a memorable female protagonist. The story follows seventeen-year-old Mica who sets off at night after the arrest of her parents by the Secret Police of the communist regime in Transylvania. She’s always dreamed of becoming an actress, but now she is alone and with nothing but rare diamonds that she brings along, her only hope of crafting a future for herself and her parents — if only they can survive the communist cruelty. She seeks asylum in the American Embassy in Budapest from where she plans to immigrate to the US and to eventually bring her parents with her. From connecting to the right people, guarding her secret about the diamonds, and finding the strength to stand up for herself, Mica will have to go through untold challenges, including rape, espionage, and staying alive. Can she make it to the US, sell her diamonds at Sotheby’s, and win her and her parents’ freedom? It will be interesting for the reader to find out.
This is a well-crafted, fast-paced, and character-driven story that had me on the edge of my seat. The reader is introduced to a young female protagonist who has to grow up quickly and become independent against the backdrop of an oppressive regime. The author offers powerful images of what it was like to grow up in communist Transylvania. There are strong shades of the experience of Auschwitz in relation to the diamonds. Roberta Seret’s prose is fantastic and I was delightfully moved by the evocative character of the writing. The descriptions are gorgeous and the author leads the reader into the psyche of the protagonist with intelligence. The setting is well written, and the contrast between the horror that Mica is running from and the hope of liberty in the US is mesmerizing. Gift of Diamonds is cinematic, an engaging story that I would love to watch as a movie.