read online Best New BoyAuthor Tracy Chevalier –

Osei Kokote is a diplomats son who has changed school multiple times and has recently moved again As the new boy in school in a Washington suburb in the 1970s, and the only black student, he is unsure of his place at the beginning of the story Many of the students are unsure of how to behave around him except Dee who is immediately drawn to him Dee is one of the most popular girls in school and all the other kids take note of the budding relationship between Dee and Osei Osei further cements his new status by doing well in a softball game, which makes him friends with another popular kid Ian the schoolyard bully doesn t like how quickly Osei is accepted and resents the respect Osei gets and sets out to ruin his relationship with Dee.I haven t read Othello and I only have a vague idea about what happens in it so I can t really compare this to the original I ve seen a lot of people s reviews saying it s not as good and so maybe I enjoyed the book much because I haven t read Othello I also want to say I m not black so I don t think I can really say how accurate the portrayal of racism was There were some things I could relate to because I am still considered a minority but each minority comes with its own sets of stereotypes and which leads to difference in the way you re treated so I don t want to speak over anyone who wants to say it isn t consistent with their experience I did think some of it matched up with my own experience though, especially the roundabout ways in which people went about expressing their prejudice I think the biggest problem with the book is that all the events are supposed to happen in one day and so it felt a little unbelievable that so much would change in the course of a school day Personally when I went to school most of the day was spent in class so I don t see how so much could happen but the kids in the book do seem to get free time outside of their lunch period Also I think the maturity attributed to the kids was a little iffy because they are 11 and I don t think 11 year olds can plan ahead in such a calculated manner as Ian did Children tend not to be as good with plan and executive function so I had a hard time believing he was so calculating and self aware of his manipulation If it had seemed like he was just doing things without really thinking through it in such a logical way because of reinforcement from the past for his manipulation then I might have found it believable I also don t know about the sexual aspect of Ian pressing himself up against Mimi I do get that around this age kids start to become sexualized but I don t think they ve left the kissing phase to jump to other things yet I also thought that the ending was a little rushed especially when view spoiler Osei calls her a whore and Dee runs home It just felt slightly out of character from the way Osei was presented as being for him to just take Ian s word and not even ask Dee about it hide spoiler Chevalier takes on Othello in this latest entry from the Hogarth Shakespeare series The third I have read and am enjoying the different takes the authors are writing to modernize these classics She sets Othello in a grade school in Washington DC, and the story takes place all in a day The students are now in sixth grade, have known each other for years, statuses clearly defined, top of the heap before moving onto Middle schhol and starting at the bottom White and privileged and inot this grouping, comes a new student, a black boy called O.A interesting concept and certainly one can see why this would be an enticing setting I found though, the concept almost two obvious, one can see where this is headed all the way I felt this became about racial prejudice, especially from the teachers who have very preconceived notions of the trouble this student will cause, than a recounting or reformatting of Othello Though the author does throw in some familiar bits to keep the connection alive, strawberries for one and the mention of Ian playing Puck in the students production of Midsummers night dream Ian, of course being the bully of the piece as far as the children go, but this also presented a problem In my experience bullies at that age, terrorize, pick on, and steal from those younger than themselves, what I question is Ian s ability to plan and manipulate as he does here So as a story I liked this but as a connection to Othello felt it was tenuous at best and maybe had its own agenda. New Boy is a very tightly wound, compact retelling of Othello, that retains the original s exploration of love and betrayal, racism, strength and weakness, but transforms the situation to an elementary school and setting the conflict between adolescents, which heightens the tension and pathos for the reader Tracy Chevalier does a fine job turning the classic, passionate tragedy into a character drama in which the children s thoughts and deeds are a reflection of the some of the worst or most insidious ills and nastiness of American society, and though set in the 1970s, I felt a dull ache of discomfort of how relevant the same sentiments and issues and ills are in today s world I would rate this 3.5 stars overall it s perhaps a bit short for my liking especially considering Othello is one of Shakespeare s longer plays , somewhat unbelievable in the rate of escalation of events arrival and love and betrayal and consequences all in a single school day , the ending which has a dark but unsettled feeling, and it didn t do much to engage with the source material beyond its adaptation to this new narrative, which felt like a bit of a missed opportunity But I rounded up to 4 stars for the very solid craft and execution, the well developed versions of Othello, Desdemona, and Iago who quickly captured my interest and aroused my sympathy, and the consistently tense and foreboding atmosphere Chevalier created in the most seemingly unassuming of locations and places.Osei is the titular new boy, a Ghanaian diplomat s son whose arrival on the playground of an all white school in the Washington D.C upends the established array of alliances and status, to the delight of Dee, who immediately connects with Osei, and to the displeasure of Ian, who prefers the previous pecking order and wants to destabilize O s fledgling relationship with Dee and social currency Knowing what s in store in a general sense for Osei Othello, Dee Desdemona, and Ian Iago means we follow Tracy Chevalier s developments through the day with trepidation these are children, after all, so their confusion and anger and distress and suffering all the weigh on our conscience, especially driven as they are by parental and social forces imposed on these children.In less than 200 pages, Chevalier gives us a wealth of backstory for Osei, Dee, Ian and Mimi Emilia In some ways, I was amazed at how quickly Chevalier could push the story into its downward spiral, and yet these adolescents were not mere stand ins for their Shakespearean counterparts Osei s double isolation as the only black boy and new boy at school is mirrored in his home life disconnected from his parents, no longer having a real relationship with his once beloved sister, constant relocation due to his father s many postings, various successful and unsuccessful outings at American schools and dealing with the ignorance and casual and overt racism in the world around him Osei is an intelligent boy, but one susceptible to the machinations and manipulations of Ian with the growth of his inner rage, fear, loneliness and pain We may not get quite as much detailed backstory with Dee, but we are given enough to see how different Dee is from her peers, that she is eager to connect with Osei and seeks to understand him and bridge the gap between their differences, a bright, happy, serene girl worldly and mature than others in her class, whose goodness and boldness Ian exploits to drive Osei s suspicion Ian is perhaps most like his original source Iago pure Machiavellian villain, clawing at power, brutal and uncaring of the feelings of others, driven by jealously and coldly delighting in his power to destroy But he too, arouses pity and sympathy, an adolescent, if only we could reach him, turn him to a better path And that is the genius of Chevalier s setting and time and characters New Boy keeps the powerful themes of Shakespeare s work, but ups the ante and the stakes since it s the lives of children now in the balance.Overall, this is a worthy entry to the Hogarth Shakespeare series, and though I did find some flaws with it and did not love it nearly as much as the muscular and meta Hag Seed, I would definitely recommend it That said, I think this one is for readers of contemporary fiction than Shakespeare fans there s little allusion or ode to Othello or the Bard here, which means the story and characters stand on their own merits, but is a bit untethered from its source material received an ARC of this on edelweiss, thanks to Hogarth and Penguin Random House Tracy Chevalier s New Boy is a bravely re imagined work of Hogarth Shakespearean fiction Reset in the 1970s on an elementary school playground, Othello s racial tensions and treachery are re imagined here in a unique new format When Osei arrives at his fourth school in as many cities, he is squarely familiar with not only the sensation of being the new boy but of being the only black boy as well A product of an educated, diplomatic Ghanaian family, he is bright and sharply intelligent He knows what to expect in this all white atmosphere that he has once again been implanted into, but, to his surprise, becomes friends with the Golden Girl of the sixth grade class on his very first day Yet, when jealousies and tempers flare, the prejudice toward the school s lone black student propelling hateful words and malicious deeds forward, the students lives are forever changed in this one day at school.Admittedly, this is a highly imaginative setting for these characters, yet I can t really imagine this novel as an adult read With that being said, I am grading it as high brow YA, in the similar vein of vocabulary and maturity as Ransom Riggs Peculiar Children series Here, I enjoyed the witty wink toward the original with Chevalier s use of derivatives of the original characters names Othello became Osei Desdemona became Dee Iago became Ian, and so forth William Shakespeare s Othello has long been one of my absolute favorites of his works what can I say I m partial to his tragedies Tracy Chevalier s adaptation of it is a work of short literary form under 200 pages that read quickly but not necessarily immersively For the majority of the read, I felt that I was sitting on the surface of it all, the contrived situations and melodramatic plot fitting for YA, I suppose, but wasn t immersive for me as an adult reader until the last fifth or so of the novel There, the plot picked up speed and the threads of action began to pull together As a YA read, Tracy Chevalier s New Boy functions as a relatable, lesson teaching book with easily identifiable characters the new kid, the mean kid, the popular boy, the skanky girl, the sidekick, and the weird girl All of the typical players you d need for a playground drama exist here, and that makes this a great read for middle schoolers and early high schoolers Also, the subject matter, and the way that Chevalier tackles it here, is also expertly handled for that age group, where it will read as not only relatable but shocking simultaneously.However.I definitely had some issues with this read, which is part of the reason why I just can t label it as adult fiction and why I could not give it a higher rating view spoiler 1 The drama turned to melodrama pretty quickly, because of the unlikeliness of this plot line Of course, we can argue that Shakespeare often gravitated toward the melodramatic his plays were for theater, after all but New Boy was often delivered as a string of events that all culminated into the ending, rather than a plausible story line that I could get behind hide spoiler From The New York Times Bestselling Author Of Girl With A Pearl Earring Comes The Fifth Installment In The Hogarth Shakespeare Series, A Modern Retelling Of Othello Set In A Suburban SchoolyardArriving At His Fifth School In As Many Years, A 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 S 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 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 The Hogarth Shakespeare series has brought us a mixed bunch of novelisations to date, some excellent My Name is Shylock, Hag Seed , some so so Vinegar Girl , and this which just didn t work for me at all Chevalier transfers Othello to an American elementary school in 1970s Washington and makes all the characters 11 year olds yep, 11 In some ways this sticks quite closely to the play in terms of the plot and characters details O is Othello, Dee is Desdemona, the racist teacher Mr Brabant is Brabantio, the school bully Ian is Iago, the handkerchief is a strawberry pencil case but it misses the spirit of the play by a long way, and cramming all the events into a single day compounds the sheer unbelievability of the whole thing Making the characters children and given that this is the 1970s, they re likely to be immature than today s 11 year olds means that their thoughts and actions don t have psychological verisimilitude I couldn t believe for a second that Mimi Emilia can say to O Othello I used it to get him to break up with me Otherwise I would always be under his power and I couldn t stand that or that O himself, at 11, can think this about his sister She was fifteen years old wasn t that too young to become a radical , or that Mimi, again, can be this insightful and knowing about sex For a moment Mimi thought of the feeling of flying around the flagpole, and of Ian pushing into her with his tongue and hips, which she thought she would not like but did, surprised to find her body responding like a light being switched on But she could not have someone like Ian turning on that light Making O the eponymous new boy upsets the way that Othello is the Moor of Venice , already both an insider and outsider when the play opens, and the fact that he has a family, complete with a Black Power saluting sister, erases his status as a loner with a wavering sense of self identity The book also makes Dee the archetypal good girl to Dee it made him the kind of teacher you always obeyed, the teacher you impressed if you could the way she felt about her own father, whom she wanted to please the original Desdemona, of course, has disobeyed her father in the opening lines of the play by eloping with Othello This novel consistently over simplifies characters and issues which are nicely complicated in the play The ending is particularly jarring Mimi is some kind of a head achey clairvoyant so has intimations the events have happened before view spoiler and ends up paralysed, we think, after Ian pulls her off a climbing frame, while Dee simply leaves the scene never to be heard of again, intimations that she s gone to kill herself in response to the mean stories spread about her in the playground hide spoiler I will be honest here and say that while I knew the rough story of Othello, I have never read it or seen it so I chose to read this book from the synopsis rather than the Shakespearean connection.The story is set in Washington in the 70 s the focus of the book is a Ghanaian diplomat s son called Osei It s his first day at a new school and the story takes place on that one day The main focus is on a group of students Osei, Dee, Mimi, Blanca, Casper and Ian There is also focus on the hideous teacher Mr Brabant and his colleague Miss Lode who mostly is a quiet and pliable character.Ian is an awful child he is the school bully, a manipulative, racist who takes pleasure in belittling others and is always looking for an opportunity to take advantage of a situation and if he can make others lives a misery while he s at it then that s all the better When Osei joins the school that Ian has worked hard to manipulate to his will and catches the eye of the popular Dee, Ian senses a shift in the balance of the carefully manipulated school playground hierarchy and sets out to make Osei the outcast The children seem to have an automatic assumption about black people that they have picked up from their openly racist parents and teachers Osei entered the school assuming that his colour would be the greatest issue and in some ways the racism plays a large part in the story, but the racist undercurrent aids Ian s cruel pursuits too He is not about to have his hard work undone by the new black boy in his school I found this story disturbing, and found myself absolutely furious at times especially at Mr Brabant.This wasn t a comfortable read but it was intense and is very well written It is relevant to current times because it is updated and relatable to what sadly is still an issue The use of the playground setting was genius I would definitely recommend this book, it may not be a comfortable read but it is so well written, the characters are realistically crafted and it is nicely paced There were shocks and surprises, aplenty I can imagine this book being studied in secondary schools in a comparison to Shakespeare s Othello It is a striking piece of work in it s own right and that will catch the attention of adults and children alike.I was given a copy of this book by the Publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review Received an ARC from Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for a fair review Tracy Chevalier hit the right notes in this retelling of Othello New Boy is a perfect depiction of how a day or two in the life of a child can feel like an eternity This story was beautifully told, and it reinvigorated some of that painful nostalgia inside me that I had forgotten about Chevalier remembers exactly what it was like to be a child trying to navigate the playground.New Boy is a story about an elementary school aged black boy, named Osei, who attends a new school with only a month remaining in the school year He is the only black student at this school.Chevalier hit the nail on the head regarding childhood politics There are social hierarchies among children, political mind games, sabotage, love, anger, joy, and all the real emotions children feel The most profound aspect of this novel, for me, was the accurate depiction of adult versus child paradigms, and how they clash, especially with regard to race I found that, if you were to strip away the adults in this novel and have only children remaining, race would not have been a factor at all Really, the only people who took issue with a black boy in an all white school, were the adults certain teachers and parents alike And if there is a child on the playground that showed racist tendencies, it was correctly shown that those attitudes were learned Children learn racism from adults, it is not an innate concept I also really enjoyed the roller coaster ride that was the romantic drama Within the course of a day or two, relationships between the children can be built and destroyed, and vice versa We all experience the political mind games of childhood romance the secret sabotage by someone who wants to date the person you re dating, the feeling that your love will last forever, only to be torn away a few hours later Hours feel like years when you re that young.This story was at times heartening, but than anything it was heartbreaking I don t often truly cry when I m reading, but this book made me cry I felt like I was right there in Osei s shows, reliving childhood all over again We can all relate to being the centre of attention as a child It s especially painful because, as a child, we want to blend in, we do not want to stand out This is made particularly true for Osei, who stands out simply because of the colour of his skin He often times overhears adults speaking about being afraid even to touch his skin Although I know what it feels to be different, I do not know truly how it feels to be different because of my skin colour But good fiction can help us to empathise and realise a closer understanding, and this is what Chevalier achieved here This book reaffirms my belief that we don t listen enough to children Children see the world with a clarity that adults often forget they also once enjoyed Children have not yet been hardened and beaten into believing this or that, and are therefore freer and open minded They see people not for the colour of their skin but for how that person respects them I think the greatest tragedy in life is an adult forgetting what it was like to be a child I would recommend this book It s a perfect example of how powerful literature can be, because it transports you to a place you ve already been, yet still teaches you something entirely new. My third in this series of Shakespearean rewrites but sadly I did not enjoy it as much as either Hag Seed or Vinegar Girl.New Boy is based on Othello and many of the similarities were obvious, but I thought the author s idea of placing the action in a 1970 s elementary school in the USA was problematic, at least for me I really feel that eleven year old children in 1970 were not so street smart or so sexualised I am sure they may have ostracised the single non white child in the school, but the havoc this child wreaks in one simple six hour school day is nonsensical.The idea was good, the writing is good, but the setting is wrong and the time span far too short Even for a Young Adult audience the age group of the characters is too young.Oops Sorry did not mean to be so critical Let s just say this book did not do it for me but I notice that many other people liked it very much This is a powerful and poignant retelling of Shakespeare s Othello I read the original and its modern predecessor back to back and, in my humble opinion, thought Chevalier did justice to this timeless story from the renowned bard.It was a bold and interesting option to transmute the original from an epic tragedy to the experiences of a handful of children, during just one school day on a playground This truncated time period and microcosm community is used as a stage for the wider, modern political and social world If Shakespeare wrote of the conspiracies of man, then Chevalier drew insight to the pettiness of it Her young cast of characters are every bit as scheming, intuitive, and pack minded as their ancient counter parts and this proved that the same prejudices are, sadly, every bit as prevalent centuries later.I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review Thank you to the author, Tracy Chevalier, and the publisher, Hogarth, for this opportunity. New Boy

About the Author: Tracy Chevalier

Born 19 October 1962 in Washington, DC Youngest of 3 children Father was a photographer for The Washington Post.Childhood Nerdy Spent a lot of time lying on my bed reading Favorite authors back then Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madeleine L Engle, Zilpha Keatley Snyder, Joan Aiken, Susan Cooper, Lloyd Alexander Book I would have taken to a desert island Anne of Green Gables by L.M Montgomery.

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