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New Boy by Tracy Chevalier
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Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Interesting look at Othello through the eyes of schoolchildren. Tracy Chevalier does a good job on characterization, clearly showing how mean kids can sometimes be. I really enjoy this Hogarth Shakespeare series. I received this book through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program. ( )
  Doondeck | Apr 20, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Tracy Chevalier moved the story of Othello from 16th century Venice to a 1970’s school yard in the suburbs of Washington, DC, but has kept almost every bit of the tale’s searing power and tragedy. The characters are 5th graders or their teachers, and with them Chevalier explores and exposes endemic everyday racism, manipulative bullying, and the loss of innocence. Written with beauty and efficacy, it’s hard to look away from this book. ( )
  Jaylia3 | Apr 19, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Transposing Shakespeare's Othello to the suburbs of 1970s Washington, Tracy Chevalier's New Boy is a near miss. Set in a schoolyard, the cast of pre-adolescents are both the story's most interesting aspect and its main weakness. Some of the characters make sense as pre-teens, particularly Osei (Othello) and Ian (Ian) whose jealousy and pettiness in Shakespeare's play always seemed immature to me, but others are flat. Dee (Desdemona) isn't developed beyond a stereotypical "good girl," and her inexplicably clairvoyant friend Mimi (Emilia?) belongs in a different story. That's not to say I didn't enjoy New Boy; I did. But I was left feeling that the story didn't quite fulfill its promise and it hasn't helped to resolve my ambivalence about the Hogarth Shakespeare series. ( )
  ParringtonWright | Apr 15, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is one of the books published by Hogarth where authors were commissioned to rewrite Shakespeare in modern times. This book is based on the story of Othello and it follows that story quite literally with all the characters in place. Unfortunately, they are middle school students who spend a lot of time on the playground (?) and think more deeply than most middle schoolers that I know. Sure kids are all wrapped up in themselves and falling in and out of love by the hour but these kids are plotting and dreaming at a pretty high level. O the new kid from Africa comes to school on his first day and Dee immediately falls for him and he for her. Then there is the unloved, devious ian who mistreats everyone out of his own self loathing and sets up the fall of O - literally. Not as successful rendering as some of the others in this Hogarth series. Nevertheless, I think it's an interesting project and will continue to read them. ( )
  LoisCK | Apr 10, 2017 |
New Boy by author Tracy Chevalier is the fifth installment in the Hogarth Shakespeare series and is a modern retelling of Othello. Set in the 1970s, eleven-year-old Osei or O as he is usually called since most white people can’t pronounce his name, is embarking on his first day at a new school. As the son of a Ghanian diplomat, this is the latest in a long series of elementary schools, this time in Washington DC. Despite the fact that he is the only black child, the day begins well, in fact, much better than usual. Dee, one of the most beautiful and popular girls at the school, is given the task of showing O around and the two immediately fall in love. But Ian, the schoolyard bully, immediately sees O as a target, partly just because he is new but also because he is black - there is absolutely no way, he would tolerate a relationship between a black boy and a white girl. He immediately begins devising a plan to end the relationship and he pulls many of the other children, most unknowingly, into his plot. Before the day is over, his manipulations will lead not only to broken hearts but tragedy.

It has admittedly been a long time since I read Othello but Chevalier seems to have done an admirable job of maintaining the original story with all the jealousy, hatred, cruelty, betrayal, and emotional and sexual manipulation. But it was because of this that I believe that it would have worked better if the children were even just a few years older. The behaviour and dialogue seems much too mature for children this young. And having the action all take place within the space of a single day made it even harder to believe. Where Chevalier makes up for this, though, is in her exploration of the effects of racism on the children and the teachers.

Despite my criticisms, however, I found the story compelling. Chevalier is an excellent writer especially in her ability to recreate place and emotion and, despite the problems of her rendition of Othello, she manages to convey much of the power of the original play. This may be a flawed homage to one of the Bard’s greatest dramas but it is still well worth the read.

Thanks to Netgalley and Crown Publishing for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review ( )
  lostinalibrary | Apr 9, 2017 |
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