New Boy Review

New Boy
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Penguin Platform

Arriving at his fourth school in six years, 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 1970s’ suburban Washington schoolyard, where kids fall in and out of love with each other before lunchtime, and practise a casual racism picked up from their parents and teachers. Watching over the shoulders of four 11-year-olds – Osei, Dee, Ian and his reluctant girlfriend Mimi.

Firstly, I just want to say a big thank you to Penguin Platform for sending me their May Reads, which New Boy was a part of. I honestly had no idea what this book was about when I picked it up so you can imagine my delight when I discovered it was a re-telling of favourite play of all time!

I've read quite a few re-tellings of Shakespeare plays and they usually deviate from the original plot lines, which is a huge bugbear of mine so one of the things I found most compelling about this book was how much it stayed to the original plot. I was skeptical as I knew it was about an 11 year old boy, in a school, but it was written beautifully and the way it managed to stay true to the play was really quite clever.

The story focuses on an 11 year old boy called Osei who lives in Washington, DC in the 1970's. He's starting yet another school and once again, his classmates aren't very accepting of him. Osei is the only black boy in his class and he feels isolated, and alone.

That is until Dee comes and introduces herself.

Dee and Osei fall head over heels for each other but as you can imagine, not everyone is as accepting of their relationship...

Ian thinks having Osei around is changing the dynamics too much within the school and decides to take it upon himself to ensure he's removed. Othello pretty much invented the saying, "keep your friends close, but your enemies closer..." and Ian certainly does that.

Something I really loved about this book was the character names and their similarities to the play. Osei for Othello, Dee for Desdemona, Ian for Iago, etc. I also loved the symbolism in this book. For example, the handkerchief in the play is replaced by a strawberry pencil case in the book. If I'd had this book in school when I was studying Othello, it would have been an absolute godsend.

It's not as intense as the play but still evokes the same emotions and explores the same themes. Sadness, disbelief, shock. And of course, jealousy is our main theme. Obviously, the ending isn't quite as morbid as the play but still very harrowing and heartbreaking.

I absolutely adored this book and if you're looking to dip your toe into the world of Shakespeare or looking to explore the world of Shakespeare further, this is definitely the book for you!


  1. Sounds amazing, I'll admit I've never read Othello, not even at school, I'm more a Much Ado About Nothing girl so maybe I'll check this out 💜

    1. I will openly admit I'm a Shakespeare addict and have read his entire works several times. The man in incredible xx