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New Boy by Tracy Chevalier
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Showing 1-5 of 76 (next | show all)
An author I like, but this is based on a Shakespeare play I am much less fond of than others. ( )
  bookczuk | Oct 11, 2017 |
I never wanted to read Othello because it just seems irredeemably ugly, racism and sexual jealousy leading to violence - yuck. Chevalier's book is set in a middle-class 6th grade and takes place all in one day. So the sex isn't really sexual and the violence, well, it's bad, but not Othello bad. Racism, jealousy, alienation, and bullying are well portrayed in a digestible format. I think Hogarth Shakespeare does it again. ( )
  Citizenjoyce | Sep 20, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The latest in the Hogarth Shakespeare Series wherein popular authors give modern-day takes on the Bard's great plays. Chevalier takes on Othello, situating the action among eleven and twelve year-old 6th graders at a 1970's Junior High. Chevalier brings to the tale her own childhood experiences of the era and struggles with school integration and the Civil Rights movement. Her efforts are the most entertaining in picking out which characters and events hearken to the original play. Osei, the son of a Ghanaian diplomat, integrates the all white school, playing Othello to popular girl Dee's Desdemona. Ian (Iago) makes dastardly plans, and a strawberry bedecked item plays a starring role.

As a standalone tale -- for someone with zero knowledge of the 400 years old play -- it has some value. Bullying and racial discrimination play front and center and are as relevant now as they were back in Chevalier's imagined playground. I see that this might be of some value for middle and YA readers. One caveat is that the sexual jealousy issues are far more than what seems likely in a 6th grade classroom and may not be appropriate for readers of that age.

The Hogarth Shakespeare Series has had some real hits -- loved "Vinegar Girl", "Gap of Time", and "Hag-Seed". Some are not destined to be favorites. I hated "Shylock is My Name". Sadly, "New Boy" isn't much of a favorite. The translation to pre-adolescents was not a happy one for me. I missed the more adult interactions and motivations of the original. Whenever Chevalier tried to introduce more adult themes, it rang utterly false for the cast of characters. ( )
  michigantrumpet | Sep 12, 2017 |
Words fail me. This is stunning. Brilliant! ( )
  librorumamans | Sep 11, 2017 |
Prepubescents do Othello?

I was resisting this one for almost the entire reading.
It becomes clear very early that Chevalier's reimagining of Shakespeare's "Othello" for the Hogarth Shakespeare series of novels is going to take place in a 7th grade school setting in 1970's Washington D.C. with 12-year-olds.
My first thought was: Dear God, don't let this end like the play.

As the novel progressed, I was quite taken with the author's portrayals of diplomat's son Osei (in the Othello role), schoolgirl Dee (in the Desdemona role), schoolyard bully Ian (in the Iago role) and Dee's friend Mimi (in the Emilia role). It was still compulsive reading from start to finish.

But the setup of adolescent hormones acting up in prepubescents just seemed to be unbelievable. So the motivations and actions become unbelievable as well in the context. Then you wonder why it couldn't have been written with adolescents in the first place. And guessing that the answer is perhaps that then the childish playground or classroom antics could no longer serve to drive the plot? e.g. kickball games instead of warfare, a pencil case instead of Desdemona's handkerchief, etc.

I ended up settling on a 3 out of 5 in a compromise. And somehow thinking that if it had been written with teenagers it would have been a 5 out of 5. ( )
  alanteder | Sep 7, 2017 |
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