"One would hope that New Boy will one day be plopped down onto the desks of students as they whine and gripe over having to read their annual Shakespeare play in English class. This is the perfect answer to the constant student question – why do we have to read this old thing? – and it is proof of the usual teacher response – because it is still relevant." Read more

"Chevalier is at her best when describing the tenderness of young love or conveying the inner thoughts of her protagonists." ... "transposing this story to the playground makes absolute sense ... It is of interest as an excercise in illustrating the universality of the original, and works equally well as a standalone piece which tells of a tightly wound, intimately imagined situation hurtling towards inevitable tragedy." Read more

"... a deft examination of the accommodations a boy such as Osei must make wherever he goes. Even at his tender age, he is aware that his very being evokes fear, sometimes even disgust." ... "Chevalier is delicate in her description of the emotional and mental cost of all this careful avoidance." Read more

"How Chevalier renders Iago's scheme into the terms of a modern-day playground provides some wicked delight. She's immensely inventive about it all, substituting, for instance, a pencil case decorated with strawberries for the handkerchief that Othello gives Desdemona ... Even the play's fierce sexual energy finds an appropriate correspondence among these adolescents storming through puberty." Read more

"The gravity of Osei's situation may not seem as profound as Othello's, but Chevalier manages to turn this story into a true tragedy ... "New Boy" will appeal to adult Shakespeare lovers and to young adults who may only know Shakespeare because of a couple of teenage lovers in Verona." Read more

"New Boy, with its angsty teenagers, racial frictions and a magnificently fleshed out antagonist, is a tense and tight read ... a heady rollercoaster of emotions, right to the breathless and shocking last line." Read more

"Chevalier's drama centres on "what it means to be an outsider". To add urgency to an everyday story of high-school bullying, she compresses the action into the cycle of a school day ... It's a clever strategy, executed with typical aplomb." Read more

"I'm an English teacher and this makes me want to teach Othello (along with this book) ... PERFECT for teaching ... The politics of teachers, recess, the principal, where you sit, the cafeteria (oy!) Yup, that's the stage for this re-telling and it works. It sooooo works." Read more

Superbly entrancing Chevalier (At the Edge of the Orchard, 2016) is the latest prominent writer to contribute to the scintillating Hogarth Shakespeare series of provocative ontemporary retellings of the Bard’s works, including Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed (2016). With breathtaking urgency, Chevalier brings Othello to a 1970s suburban elementary school outside Washington, D.C., where the playground is as rife with poisonous intrigue as any monarch’s court. Into this rigidly hierarchical fiefdom steps the new boy, who is not only a stranger, but also the only black student. While children and adults alike gape at him with dismay and worse, Osei Kokote, a diplomat’s son from Ghana, who has been through this before, methodically reviews his survival strategies. But pure love ignites at first sight between Osei and Dee, the golden girl, and their impulsive touch shoots a veritable lightning bolt through the school’s collective psyche. Scheming bully Ian promptly instigates a chain reaction of lies, bribes, threats, betrayals, and assaults that leaves everyone scorched. Chevalier’s brilliantly concentrated and galvanizing improvisation thoroughly exposes the malignancy and tragedy of racism, sexism, jealousy, and fear.

Donna Seaman