A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What 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?
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.
Talk to your kids 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?
For kids who love coming-of-age stories
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.