In my quest for boy-friendly books, I kept hearing good things about this odd middle-grade book called Tangerine by Edward Bloor. My former library co-workers always said it was the perfect boy book: sports, mysterious going-ons, heros, villians, and tangerines. Wait, tangerines? Intrigued ever since, it's been on the list to acquire and when I came across it at my local library booksale the other day, I snatched it up and ran home to start reading right away.
For as long as he can remember, seventh-grader Paul Fisher has lived in the shadow of The Erik Fisher Football Dream. Ever since Paul's older brother Erik kicked his first successful 50 yard field goal, it seems to Paul that the entire Fisher household has revolved around Erik getting a football scholarship in hopes of one day advancing to the Pros. But there are two big things Paul just can't understand: 1) why everyone adores Erik, who he truly knows to be cruel and underhanded, and 2) why those same people are also in love with football. Now soccer, that is a sport Paul can get really get behind. Even though he happens to be legally blind, Paul is a talented goalie and is more than ready for the soccer season to begin at his new middle school in the town of Tangerine, Florida. Though, as usual, Paul is the first to notice that their seemingly idyllic planned community is not what it appears to be as natural disasters strike again and again and neighbors turn against one another; all while football and soccer games continue to be won. And lost.
I can now fully understand why Tangerine is often embraced by educators. Its many themes could easily foster intriguing and highly relevant discussions in any classroom. Truly, it is astounding that such a small book could contain such a wide range of significant topics yet still remain so accessible to teens on a variety of levels. A list of themes discussed include clashes between the haves vs the have-nots, the impact of family relationships, the treatment of those with 'disabilities', environmental issues, race discrimination, and even bullying scenarios. And that's not even a comprehensive list. But even with its appeal to teachers, Tangerine can still readily resonate with any reader be they young or old, student or parent due to the honest and captivating narration of the observant Paul. His voice is clear, insightful, and above all, entertaining. A hero with coke-bottle glasses and courage to spare. I'm glad I found room on my shelves for Paul Fisher and Tangerine. It's one I'll be sure to share with my own son. Even if I have to wait a few more years to read it with him.
book source: purchased