This novel is inspired by Shakespeare's Othello with a soccer and celebrity back drop. Otello is South America star player. The book opens with him being traded to Rialto, a team in Southern region. The author quickly establishes the racial divide between the Northern and Southern regions. Otello loved in the North is not wanted or welcomed by his teammates or the Rialto fans.
At a party thrown by Nestor Brabanta, the man and the money behind Rialto, Otello meets Desmerelda (Dezi). Dezi is a famous pop singer, Nestor is her father. Otello and Dezi have an instant connection and get married soon after meeting. The two become a celebrity power couple, think Beckham and Posh. As the novel continues the couples celebrity and exposure increases. As with the Shakespeare's Othello, the villain is posing as a friend. Otello's agent Diego is doing everything he can to sabotage Otello.
Exposure is a nicely layered story. Its broken up into 5 acts, the chapters alternate between characters. One of my favorites his Bush. Age is unknown though he claims to be 17 so he won't get picked up by the police. There are many kids living on the street for various reasons, Bush is one of them. He looks after his younger sister, Bianca and a girl named Felicia. Bush works a corner in front of a newspaper building. That's where he meets Paul Faustino. Paul is the reporter who breaks the story on Otello's trade. It is through Paul's eyes that we understand a lot of the politics behind the game. Such as Otello's teammates making him look off his game by passing to him a second late or to his weak side.
I read Othello is high school, it was one of the few required books I loved. Iago was my favorite character, Othello was too naive for my liking. This time I'd have to go with Otello. He's still naive but more developed than Diego. The author focuses his energy on making the reader care about Otello and Dezi, so we'll feel for their lack of privacy. It works.
The South American people are obsessed with Otello and Dezi. Paparazzi follow them everywhere and they're always on the cover of tabloids. This is a timely novel and the authors done a wonderful job with it.
Mal Peet won the 2009 Guardian children's fiction prize for Exposure
The 2009 Guardian children's fiction prize nominees