“Arriving at his fifth school in as many years, a diplomat’s son, Osei Kokote, knows he needs an ally if he is to survive his first day so he’s lucky to hit it off with Dee, the most popular girl in school. But one student can’t stand to witness this budding relationship: Ian decides to destroy the friendship between the black boy and the golden girl. By the end of the day, the school and its key players – teachers and pupils alike – will never be the same again.”
“The tragedy of Othello is transposed to a 1970’s suburban Washington schoolyard, where kids fall in and out of love with each other before lunchtime, and practice a casual racism picked up from their parents and teachers. Peeking over the shoulders of four 11 year olds Osei, Dee, Ian, and his reluctant girlfriend Mimi, Tracy Chevalier’s powerful drama of friends torn apart by jealousy, bullying and betrayal will leave you reeling.” ~via Goodreads
Publication Date: 05/16/2017
I think it’s important to acknowledge that Shakespeare is tricky business. I’ve always been a bit of a fan but then again, it’s a bit more of a love hate relationship (me and anything Shakespeare). The writing is good, the stories are great, but they can be a bit hard to digest. Reading Shakespeare is NOT for everyone and what a shame it is because a lot of people miss out on some great works.
The Hogarth Shakespeare retellings that have been coming out really offer up an opportunity for many of us to experience Shakespeare in a way that is a bit more relatable, easier to understand, easier to enjoy. And also worth mentioning are the wonderful authors tha
t have taken up the task to do these retellings – there have been some incredible ones.
New Boy is the retelling of the Shakespearean tragedy Othello. If you are familiar with the original, you know that this is not going to be a feel good kind of book. It’s supposed to be sad and it should make you angry. Tracy Chevalier (Girl with a Pearl Earring) delivers as expected, making this dark story even more relevant and even more painful than ever.
New Boy takes place in the 1970’s at a very suburban, very white Washington elementary school. 6th grader Osei is not only the new boy coming in at the end of the year, long after social circles have been established, he is also the only black student. When the very popular Dee shows affection towards Osei, some of the other students and even teachers respond in the most regrettable of ways. Blatant racism, bullying, jealousy, adolescence and ignorance ignite this dark tale that takes place over the span of just one very tragic school day.
At the end of the story, I felt angry and sad for Osei. But that was the whole point.
I give this great retelling, 4 dramatic stars!
I was fortunate enough to have received this book from a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you!