Tracy Chevalier’s new book is the latest in the Hogarth Shakespeare series of modern day retellings of classic Shakespeare plays. Telling the story of Othello in a more contemporary setting, New Boy was always going to be a bit edgier than some of the others that have preceded it.
It is Washington in the 1970s. When a new boy arrives at Dee’s school he stands out in the playground and immediately gets her attention. His dark skin and very smart clothes have immediately grabbed her attention. Dee is the most popular girl in the school so anyone that she approves of is instantly cool.
Osei Kokote is the son of a diplomat and at his fifth school in as many years. The assimilation is a process that he is all too used to. Not everyone is happy that the black boy and the golden girl have become fast friends and Ian decides to put a spanner in the works and prise them apart.
Knowing the story of Othello you might be surprised that it is being retold from the point of view of four eleven year olds in a school yard. An environment where bullying, racism and betrayal are part of everyday life but here they are amped up and soon the school is torn apart by the consequences of their actions. It isn’t always the easiest story to read but it is an interesting modern take on the story itself.
Supplied by Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
UK Publication Date: May 11 2017. 183 pages.