Otello: a world-class soccer player. Desmerelda: a pop-star princess. Diego: an agent representing Otello. Their names, if not their occupations, may vaguely ring a bell, and not coincidentally. This is a brilliant and contemporary remake of Shakespeare's drama Othello.
Set in a country in South America, Diego has recently maneuvered his client Otello, a star soccer player, into a plum position on the country's best team, partly owned by a rich and powerful senator. That senator's daughter, Desmerelda, is a sensation in her own right, as a pop singer with a top-selling album. She aggressively pursues and swiftly marries Otello, to her father's horror (No daughter of his would marry a black man!). The two embark on a glittering lifestyle, darlings of the paparazzi and targets of the world of marketing and media.
Far from the lavish neighborhoods in which Otello and Desmerelda move, Bush, a street kid, lives in a hovel behind a bar with his sister Bianca and friend Felicia. He earns pennies washing commuters' windshields and running errands. He and Felicia worry about the wrong people discovering his beautiful, naïve, and maturing little sister. Life can be dangerous for a pretty girl in his neighborhood.
The thread stringing all these people together is Paul Faustino, a sports writer for a respected newspaper. He knows Otello, and by extension Desmerelda, through several interviews he's conducted for his paper. He knows Bush because the boy works the neighborhood around the newspaper office, and Faustino, who has a soft spot for him, makes a point of hiring him for odd jobs.
Knowing the Senator's hatred of his new son-in-law, Diego exploits the absolute trust Otello and Desmerelda have in him and begins carefully to orchestrate their downfall. First he plants in them the seed of doubt in their trusted bodyguard. When that fails, he grasps a new opportunity. A manufacturer of sports clothing wants to create a line specifically for Otello. They want real street kids to model the clothes, as a nod to Otello's humble origins. The lovely Bianca is one of the recruits. She seems to be a natural in front of the camera, and she models soccer jerseys, hoodies, and bikinis.
Diego, sensing a perfect opportunity, gets the photos and goes to work with Photoshop. When Bianca has gone missing for several days, Bush contacts the only adult he trusts: Paul Faustino, who uses his contacts to discover the tragic end Bianca has come to. While there is no positive evidence of Otello's involvement in her death, the media goes berzerk over the confiscation of his laptop and his temporary detention by police. Desmerelda is uncertain. Otello is dumbstruck. Bush is devastated.
Exposure is a riveting novel that is part psychological drama, part crime fiction and completely absorbing.
Reviewed by Jane Behrens, LibrarianJohnston High School Iowa