Tuesday, July 04, 2017

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

They said:-
'O felt her presence behind him like a fire at his back.'
Arriving at his fourth school in six years, 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 1970s suburban Washington schoolyard, where kids fall in and out of love with each other before lunchtime, and practise a casual racism picked up from their parents and teachers. Watching 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.

My thoughts:-

A very enjoyable take on the Othello story, with the action moved to the school playground, Dee and Osei (O) are around thirteen, and puberty is rearing its heated head among their classmates.  O is a newcomer and the only black pupil in the school, son of a Ghanaian diplomat posted to Washington DC.  Dee is the girl who takes her new classmate under her wing, with unforeseen and ultimately tragic results.  It is very clever transposition which works well and demonstrates the universal themes of the original play.  Young Adults will enjoy reading this, but older adults will, too.

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