Arriving 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 1970'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 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.~Goodreads Blurb
This is my third of the Hogarth Retellings and so far this has to be the one that I’m not so keen on. I enjoy author Tracy Chevalier’s other work but I felt that this one fell a bit short. Now that could easily be my own personal bias. I’ve read and seen this play many times and written at least 10 different papers on Othello and its characters. So I know the story front ways and back. After just reading the blurb, I was unsure of how they would manage to fit all the adult or at least young adult themes into a 6th grader’s day. I’m still not convinced that it all fits quite so nicely.
There always is the a struggle when you write about children for a more adult audience that you don’t want to make them too dumb and naive and yet you don’t wish to age them beyond their years. I feel like that was the real issue that I struggled with throughout this story. Every time I started getting into the story, I would pull myself back and remember that they are only 11 years old. There is a lot going on in this story that I feel would have been better suited to a slightly older group even if they were freshman in high school. It just seemed odd and off-putting to have these strong emotions and passions in 11-year-olds. The story was well written, though it could have used a bit more length. It’s no Hag-Seed and while I will pass it off to other Shakespeare readers, I won’t be asking for my copy back.
Freelance Editor & Reviewer