New Boy

New Boy (Hogarth Shakespeare)New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Using Othello in a modern retelling to depict not only racism but bullying, had me intrigued and excited. Unfortunately, for me, this book didn’t quite hit that mark.

I will start by saying, I am not incredibly familiar with Othello, at least in the nuances of the play. I know the general character and plot though. Sometimes in retellings, knowing a story too intimately can make the experience difficult. Other times, the opposite. I think in this case, knowing the play would have helped.

Overall, I felt that the children were too young to have the thoughts and general self-awareness required to make the plot believable. I think that had it been set in a Junior High setting it would have been more plausible. My other issue was the timeline. Some of this relates to the age of the children again, but I simply did not find it realistic that such intense emotions would occur in a single day with limited interactions. My experience, both direct and indirect of sixth graders, is that while emotions can be intense and sudden, this level of passion felt like a reach.

Othello was a good play to choose to highlight the topics of racism and bullying. The writing was good and if you can overlook some of the plot stretches, I think fans of Shakespeare will enjoy it. It was a fast read, and like the play, gives the reader subject matter to digest and use to analyze the world around them. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

I received a free copy from the Penguin First to Read program for this review.

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