Exposure

 
Gritty retelling of Shakespeare tale for older teens.

What parents need to know

Educational value

This is a modern telling of Shakespeare's Othello and may inspire some teens to read the original play or at least to learn the story. This book will inspire teens to think about a wider range of issues, from our media-obsessed culture to the cost of racism and the plight of children born into poverty.

Positive messages

The book highlights the costs associated with fame and the ugliness of racism.

Positive role models

The characters make many stupid decisions. However, when they do make mistakes, the majority understand the wrongs they have committed, why things happened, and that there are consequences for their mistakes. Also, although the characters may do bad things, they're not bad people. Often they are victims of their circumstances and seek to rectify the situation.

Violence

Several murders and the bodies of many dead girls found in trash bags. One of the murders is of a character in the novel. The victims were sexually assaulted, and girls are constantly worried about being raped. A man assaults a teen boy, kicking him out of the way. Another adult male gets into a fight with another adult, and groups of teens bully others. There is also an attempted kidnapping that results in people being shot.

Sex

A man and a woman have sex several times; the woman becomes pregnant. A teen boy becomes aware of girls. Another girl discusses becoming a woman, including the dangers of flaunting it and the issues with wearing a bra.

Language

There is quite a bit of swearing, including "s--t," "ass," and "son of a bitch." Also, one of the book's themes is the ugliness of racism, so there is racially tinged and offensive language. The "N" word is used several times, and characters compare black people with apes, animals, hypersexualized conquerors, brutes, and inferior beings.

Consumerism

Some products are mentioned. Most are fictional, but a few, such as Hummer and Porsche, are mentioned by name to allude to the wealth of a person.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Teens drink, smoke cigarettes, and smoke marijuana on several occasions. Adults are described as having drinking problems, while others drink often and sometimes overindulge.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this novel is a better fit for older teens. Characters swear, use alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana, have sex, and use racially offensive language. There is also an ongoing set of murders of young girls and the threat of rape to young girls. This is a modern telling of Shakespeare's Othello and may inspire some teens to read the original play or to at least learn the story. This book will inspire teens to think about a wider range of issues, from our media-obsessed culture to the cost of racism and the plight of children born into poverty. 

What's the story?

Paul Faustino, a journalist, is on hand to witness two worlds collide with tragic consequences. Otello is a beloved, black soccer star from the slums of northern Brazil. When he is traded to another team, he has to contend with heated race issues and a team he doesn't trust. Things only get more complicated when he falls in love and marries Desmerelda, a white pop star who happens to be the daughter of the powerful politician who is responsible for bringing Otello to his new team. In a subplot, three homeless teens who couldn't be further away from the glitz and burn of the hot paparazzi lights spend their time struggling to survive. They run from the police, avoid the constant violence of the streets, and hope for a better life. When one seizes an opportunity for stardom, all three find themselves on a crash course that envelops Otello and Desmerelda. Who will survive the exposure?

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Mal Peete has created a wonderful novel in this reincarnation of Shakespeare's Othello in EXPOSURE. It's exciting and modern with lessons beyond Shakespeare's original tragedy. Peete touches on poverty, political corruption, the extreme world of celebrity media, and racial tensions that bubble along the undercurrents of modern society. The author's characters are familiar, warm, and sympathetic. Teens will fall in love with some, hope for others, and rage against several. The conflicting settings -- the hyper world of celebrity sport and pop stars and the desperate poverty of Brazilian slums -- creates a believable, rich, layered environment that only enhances the story. The novel has a pressing, emotional quality to it, making the audience feel like they're always on the edge of a character's breakdown or breakthrough, which makes for an intense, thrilling read.

There are a few drawbacks. The novel's length combined with the sometimes slow pace may discourage teens. Also, those unfamiliar with the story may not understand the subplots, and those who have read Othello may be underwhelmed by a conclusion that doesn't take the tragedy as far as Shakespeare's original.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about this being a Shakespeare retelling. Were you aware that this was a modern take on Othello when you picked up the book? Why do you think so many authors continue to retell these old stories?

  • This book has some pretty gritty material in it. Was the violence necessary to tell the story? Is reading about violence any different from seeing it in a movie or video game? 

Book details

Author:Mal Peet
Genre:Contemporary Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Candlewick Press
Publication date:October 13, 2009
Number of pages:448
Publisher's recommended age(s):14

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Quality

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  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 15 years old Written byPrincessCharmed797 December 10, 2010
age 15+
 

EXPOSURE

i love this BOOK.

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