“new boy” by tracy chevalier
“new boy” is a retelling of shakespeare’s “othello.” i don’t know if me not being familiar with that story helped or hindered my enjoyment of this book, but, it kept my rapt interest from start to finish. i read it in a day. every time i put it down, my thoughts would wander to the playground at that d.c. middle school. what would happen next?
these kids go through a lot in the course of one school day. they experience big emotions and face big, real world problems. the themes of jealousy and discrimination are played out among a cast of characters that confront these feelings with raw honesty yet are confused by them because it is a confusing time. it’s an age of transition—an age where you start thinking for yourself, but the influences of grown up opinions and actions muddle things. expectations conflict with their innate sense of right and wrong.
the story is told from the POV of several characters, so one can empathize or understand their actions and reactions. it also creates a sense of dread of how it will end. shakespeare is good at weaving in drama, but his plays can be difficult to understand. chevalier takes the heightened drama of the story, but puts it in simple terms—from the views of children. though that is not to say it’s dumbed-down shakespeare, by any means. it’s the big themes told in a relatable story.
i received a copy of “new boy” from blogging for books in an exchange for this honest review.