New Boy

New Boy

by Tracy Chevalier

Overview: Arriving at his fifth school in as many 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 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.

Faith Bowers (06/14/17): Ms. Chevalier is one of my favorite authors. When I see her name on the library shelf, I don’t even look at what the book is about. This being her latest and I enjoyed the writing even if it was about 6th graders on the playground as every sentence shimmers with suspense. Ms. Chevalier transports the tragedy of Othello to this Washington DC 1970s playground. I had not read Othello and I waited until I finished this little book before I read about Shakespeare’s play. I love novels with compact sentences and this is one of them. I was on edge throughout her story and really had to finish it and find out what the tragedy would be. I think there is great discussion of African black vs American black, the fact the Oise moved from the north in NY to Washington DC, many of us were coming of age during the 70s sharing and the comparison of the original Othello and this one.
Rating: ****

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