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Novio Boy    by Gary Soto order for
Novio Boy
by Gary Soto
Order:  USA  Can
Harcourt, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

One thing the theatre world is sadly in need of is more plays written specifically for high school students. Gary Soto's Novio Boy is a step in the right direction towards rectifying this deficiency.

The Novio Boy, or Sweethart Boy, of the title is Rudy, a ninth-grader who has just successfully asked out an eleventh-grader, Patricia. We get to watch as both teens prepare for their date with family and friends, muddling through their insecurities of dating either someone older or someone younger. The one-act play culminates with the big date itself, as almost all the characters wind up in the same restaurant as the new couple.

The characters are all very engaging, and the adults are written so that teenagers would have no problem playing a character older than themselves. While each scene does require a different set, none need to be elaborate, making it easy for high schoolers to perform as part of a night of one-acts. Finally, the feelings of the characters throughout the play - mingled with light humor - will resonate with teenage audiences.

Soto has created a drama in typical Latino style - short scenes that showcase not just the main characters, but other characters too - that will appeal to all teenagers, no matter their ethnic background. The one thing that is lacking is a strong ending. The final scene could have a little more punch. Also, since almost all the characters end up in the restaurant in the end, it would be nice if the two missing characters - the disc jockey and Patricia's friend - also somehow wound up at the eatery. Overall, though, Novio Boy is a very likeable play that high schoolers will enjoy reading - and possibly even performing.

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