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Winner of the 2009 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize

Carnegie Medalist Mal Peet takes a searing look at the world of soccer and pop-celebrity culture — and the lives of three street kids caught in its glare.

When a black South American soccer star signs on to a team in the country's racist south, headlines blare. And when he falls for the sensual Desmerelda, a stunning white pop singer and daughter of a wealthy politician, their sudden and ...

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Winner of the 2009 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize

Carnegie Medalist Mal Peet takes a searing look at the world of soccer and pop-celebrity culture — and the lives of three street kids caught in its glare.

When a black South American soccer star signs on to a team in the country's racist south, headlines blare. And when he falls for the sensual Desmerelda, a stunning white pop singer and daughter of a wealthy politician, their sudden and controversial marriage propels the pair to center stage, where they burn in the media spotlight. But celebrity attracts enemies; some very close to home. And its dazzle reaches into the city's hidden corners, exposing a life of grit and desperation the glitterati could never imagine. When a girl is found murdered, reporter Paul Faustino is caught between worlds as he witnesses the power of the media in making — and breaking — lives. Inspired by Shakespeare's OTHELLO, this modern tragedy of desire and betrayal, incisively and compassionately told, is a truly enthralling work of crossover fiction.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal - Audio
Gr 9 Up—When the South American soccer team, Rialto, signs Otello, a black northerner, racism rears its ugly head in this compelling novel (Candlewick, 2009) by Mal Peet. Making matters worse, Otello quickly falls in love with Desmerelda, the white pop-star daughter of Senor Brabanta, a right-wing politician and Rialto's powerful board director. Allusions to Shakepeare's tragedy, Othello, include character names and places, acts and scenes, stage directions, and themes. However, the story is fresh and modern, taking on sports stars as commodities, the paparazzi's dogged pursuit of celebrity, poverty, and racism. Otello's trusted manager, Diego (Othello's Iago), plots against his rise to fame and tries to undermine him at every turn. In a parallel plot to Desmerelda (Dezi) and Otello's marriage and career struggles, a beautiful street kid named Bianca is murdered. Her brother, Bush, appeals to a news reporter he knows, Paul Faustino, for help. Faustino's character is reprised from previous Mal Peet novels about soccer and is the neutral narrator and thread that ties the two plots together. Narrator Christopher Lane juggles the myriad of characters flawlessly. Adopting a slight South American accent and tone variation, he deftly captures Brabanta's pompous bravado, Otello's naivety, Faustino's suspicions, and Diego's deviousness. His careful enunciation of dialogue and stage direction underscores the twist on Shakespeare and the changing perspective in the novel, from opulence and fame to the abject poverty of life on the streets. This wonderfully multilayered story lends itself perfectly to this audio production, which will be savored by listeners.—Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia Jr. Sr. High School, NY
Publishers Weekly
Peet's third novel featuring crusty sports reporter Paul Faustino updates Othello in a fictional South American setting. Superstar soccer player Otello is traded to a new club, a move engineered by his greedy agent, Diego, and a sleazy politician named Brabanta. Within weeks, Otello elopes with Brabanta's only daughter, the pop superstar Desmerelda. Their Posh and Becks–style union becomes premium tabloid fodder, the scrutiny intensified by racist undercurrents—he's black and she's white. Unlike Peet's first two Faustino novels, Keeper and The Penalty, soccer action takes a backseat to story lines about celebrity obsession, the plight of the underclass and political corruption. The story is prefaced with a cast list, the narrative divided into acts, and some passages are presented as if they were dialogue from a play. Teens who don't know Shakespeare's version can enjoy this without understanding the many allusions. It'll be more difficult for those familiar with the original to overlook the fact that the motivation for the Iago character's betrayal of the too-good-to-be-true Otello never quite adds up. Ages 14–up. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Laura J. Brown
All Othello cared about was being a star soccer player. When he had the opportunity to play for another team, for more money, and in a different part of his country he knew it would not be popular with everyone; but, he refused to allow what others thought to stop him from doing what he thought was best for his career. He knew he might be "a fish out of water," being black in a majority white part of his country, but he was not going to let that stop him either. He had to win over his new team mates, who were not happy that he was now on their team and that he was the highest paid player. He focused on the game and his skill as an athlete and won them and the fans over. What Othello never expected was to fall in love with a beautiful singing star, and to have his career, character, and life maligned by the media. The thing that Othello found most devastating was betrayal by someone close to him. This is an explosive, contemporary take on Shakespeare's Othello. It is modern; fast paced, and does not ignore social problems of the twenty-first century. Readers will find this book engaging, and will recognize some of the same themes they see in the headlines of news organizations and tabloid magazines. Reviewer: Laura J. Brown
VOYA - Dave Goodale
Jaded soccer reporter Paul Faustino links the two plots of this elaborate novel. The main plot centers on Otello, a star for his country's soccer team and one of South America's top players. He is transferred to a club team in the southern part of his country, an area known for racism toward black players like Otello. At his new club, Otello meets Desmerelda, a white pop singer. They quickly marry and are rocketed into the media spotlight. Unbeknownst to Otello, his agent Diego Mendosa plots his ruin at every turn. The other story line involves three homeless teens struggling to make it on the streets. When one of them, a young girl, is murdered, her death is tied to Otello, and Otello's life spirals out of control. Peet's third Paul Faustino novel is based on the play Othello. He incorporates play elements into the novel by providing a cast of main characters and substituting dialogue for narrative prose. Peet excels at building his invented South American country and revels in providing cultural and political details. Good readers will become absorbed in the imaginary country and its inhabitants. The two plots, Otello's downfall and the plight of the three homeless teens, converge well as the book progresses. It is a bold effort by Peet, but those looking for soccer action will find themselves disappointed. The novel, winner of the 2009 Guardian Prize for children's fiction, is much more concerned with the themes of celebrity status and the influence of the media. Reviewer: Dave Goodale
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—South America's star soccer player, Otello, has just signed a very lucrative contract to play with a team in the southern part of his country. Despite his legendary status as a black northerner, he faces racial discrimination from both the fans and his teammates. His fame is launched to a frenzied level when he marries Desmerelda, the white pop-star daughter of the wealthy and powerful politician who funded his soccer contract. Guided by his self-serving agent, Diego, Otello and Desmerelda become a superstar couple with advertising deals, endorsements, and their own clothing line. Meanwhile, a subplot involving three homeless teenagers climaxes with Otello being accused of inappropriate actions when one of the beautiful and flirtatious teens, Bianca, turns up dead. The plot, characters, and names bear a close resemblance to Shakespeare's masterpiece. While teens will need no familiarity with the original to enjoy Peet's version of the tragedy of betrayal and the isolation of fame, the subplots and entanglements may seem confusing to readers unfamiliar with the play. At 430 pages, the pacing is slow at times, which will deter some teens from reaching the long-awaited ending. However, teachers could add this title to the list of Shakespeare adaptations that can be analyzed in whole or in part by individual students or a small group.—Lynn Rashid, Marriotts Ridge High School, Marriottsville, MD
Kirkus Reviews
In a nameless South American country, soccer reporter Paul Faustino again finds himself in the midst of an unexpected story. Peet drops the magical realism and sense of history displayed in Keeper (2005) and The Penalty (2007) for something more topical and downright Shakespearian. Fame-and diabolical manager Diego-threatens the love between black soccer star Otello and beautiful, white Desmerelda. Meanwhile, street kid Bush tries to keep his lovely, fame-obsessed sister safe from the forces, criminal and not, preying on the poor. Far more than a retelling, this contains a deft study of class played out through the intertwined stories, a reflection on race and a study of how the masses are opiated (with soccer and beauty), linked by Faustino's keen observations. It adds up to a wonderful read. The author employs dramatic devices (a cast of characters; script-formatted dialogue) as homage to Othello. Faustino comes across as an insightful reporter but lacks some of the nuance he showed in his previous adventures; ironically, that might just make this more accessible to teen readers. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781455800599
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Publication date: 2/28/2011
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.12 (w) x 6.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Mal Peet is the author of the Carnegie Medal-winning novel TAMAR, as well two previous Paul Faustino novels, KEEPER and THE PENALTY. He lives in Devon, England.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent Story

    This book was phenomanel. It told the story of a super-star soccer play and a world famous celebrity. If you are into reality, drama, and most important soccer, than this is the book for you. Exposure's Otello and Dezi meet up and then get into a steep downwrd spiral. Read to find out what happens; you'll love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Posted April 26, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Not Light Reading

    If you read Tamar and were depressed, like me, then the only reason you read THIS book was because the writer is so good at what he does. That's the only reason I chanced it. This book is not as involving as Tamar. Of course, this book is based on Othello, so I made sure not to get attached to anyone who had the possibility of dying. Not too many do, if you're put off by that sort of thing. In Tamar, I was right there with the characters; with this book, I kept the distance a reader should for a prime reading experience. I love Mal Peet's very very dry humor. I had some giggles in the middle of a very serious story thanks to his humor. Paul Faustino, the sort-of narrator, is very likable, which always makes a book easier to read. Rest assured knowing that all he talks about applies to the story. It's not random.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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