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Tangerine    by Edward Bloor Amazon.com order for
Tangerine
by Edward Bloor
Order:  USA  Can
Harcourt, 2006 (2006)
Softcover

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* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Edward Bloor's Tangerine really surprised me in a good way. The back of the book made it sound like it would be quirky, but it was actually very realistic. It's a wonderful story about a young soccer player who is beginning to see the world as it really is. Although the story is geared towards middle-school boys, Bloor never once talks down to his readers, making Tangerine just as solid as many novels in a similar vein aimed at adults.

Paul Fisher's dad has just accepted a job as a civil engineer for the county of Tangerine, Florida. Hardly effected by the move, Paul does not care about starting at a new school as long as he can play soccer. However, Lake Windsor Middle is different from his old school in Houston the majority of the classrooms are in portable units connected by wooden walkways. Also, when he registered, the school made his mom fill out an IEP Individualized Education Plan form because of his bad eyesight (Paul has no clue why his eyesight is so poor, but just knows that something happened when he was five).

This IEP form ends up haunting Paul throughout his days at Lake Windsor Middle, eventually getting him kicked off the soccer team. In an odd twist of fate, though, Paul has a chance to start over when he decides to enroll at Tangerine Middle after a sinkhole collapses most of the portable units at Lake Windsor Middle. It is at Tangerine Middle that Paul begins to see the world more clearly and to get out from under the shadow of his football star older brother.

This is a well-rounded story that tells a wonderful tale of forming your own self-identity and learning to stand up for your beliefs a moral not uncommon to many novels geared towards this age group. What makes Tangerine stand out from the rest is Bloor's absorbing storytelling. The tale is told in the form of Paul's computer journal. This format works extremely well - Paul is such a believable character that it's hard to imagine that the story was actually written by someone who has not been twelve for some time.

Another thing that makes Tangerine stand out from similar stories is that everything is not neatly tied-up. Some pretty bad things happen, leading to a not-so-happy ending. However, while the characters may not all live happily ever after, the story is still very upbeat and a pleasure to read - unlike some with similar themes that can drag the reader down and make finishing a chore. Edward Bloor's Tangerine is just one of those books that you have to read for yourself - I really cannot do it justice in this review.

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