Thursday, February 22, 2007

Tangerine by Edward Bloor

Paul Fisher has terrible eyes and can’t remember exactly how his vision was damaged. Because of his thick lenses, he’s often teased. But, Paul is an even-tempered teenager and just wants to play soccer. If only his parents would notice that he’s an athlete, and a good one. But, they’re too busy focusing on his older brother’s football career to notice what’s going on in Paul’s life.

Erik Fisher is a natural at kicking a football with great distance and accuracy. His father is bent on making sure that Erik gets the chance at football that he never had. Apart from Paul, though, nobody in the Fisher family is willing to face the fact that Erik Fisher has some serious problems.

When the Fishers move to Tangerine, Florida to pursue what Paul refers to as “the Erik Fisher Football Dream”, they have a few surprises in store. In Tangerine, underground fires burn continuously, lightning strikes every day at the same time, and the tangerines that gave the city its name are almost completely gone, burned to make room for housing developments. As the Fishers deal with the oddities of life in Tangerine, the truth about Erik is slowly revealed while Paul deals with the challenges of school, soccer, home life, and the sharply different backgrounds of his teammates and friends.

I really enjoyed this book, to the point that I picked it up one day and finished it the next, unwilling to put it down for long. However, it does have some fairly substantial inaccuracies, according to a friend and my own understanding of civil engineering as a profession. Paul’s father is a county engineer who is so highly paid that his family lives in a huge house, virtually a mansion. While there’s corruption in the county where the story is set, I still find it hard to believe that a civil engineer working for a county would be hired at a high enough salary to live like that, especially with a non-working wife. I’m married to a civil engineer and it’s simply not a high-paid profession unless you're willing to go to hazardous areas (Bosnia, Iraq, etc.) or work ridiculous hours at a consulting company - neither of which Paul's father did.

Another problem has to do with Erik. I think it was troubling that the parents in this book were so disinterested in their youngest son and focused on the eldest. Erik's problems unfold rather slowly, but it's obvious early on that the grown-ups are deliberately blinding themselves to what's going on in the lives of both of their children outside of Erik's football. I think that happens, but I find it hard to believe that on one end of the scale you have Paul, who is a decent, hard-working and unprejudiced teenager and, at the other end of the scale, Erik is pretty much the opposite extreme - not just not a nice person but possibly even psychotic. How on earth could the same set of parents raise two such different people? It's possible. But, Paul's mother was particularly confusing. I couldn't get a fix on her and certainly couldn't relate to her blithe disinterest in her children and their lives.

When I originally wrote part of this review, I gave the book a 4/5. But, I've rethought it. There were enough bits that didn't work for me that I'm going to knock it down another half notch - not much, since I did find myself glued to the book, but just a bit. I still recommend it. Tangerine is a young adult novel.


In other news . . .

The sign fell down!!! Can you believe that after my silly post about that sign (pictured below), it was on the ground just 4 days later? I thought about picking it up and handing it to the ranger. But, I was hot, tired and sweaty. I went home and took a bath, instead. I'm really worried about all those potential stick-people injuries.

They're everywhere! Kiddo had to go to the doctor for a portion of his swim camp physical, which he couldn't do last week because of the fact that he lost both pairs of glasses. And, what did we see as we pulled into the parking lot? A hawk, of course. I grabbed my camera, which I've been carrying on sunny days, and slung it around my neck, signed the kid in and said, "See you in a little bit." Then, I dashed out and took photos of not one but two red-tail hawks circling. They were pretty far away, but the tails were a dead giveaway and it was certainly a lot more fun watching the hawks than it is to sit around listening to the soap opera characters holler at each other.

What's up with that? I'm still getting an abbreviated task panel, even with new posts, so I'm not sure what's up with Blogger but I still can't highlight and color. Darn. I also see a funky HTML code rather than a photograph when I upload pics. Hmmm. Methinks Blogger is being freaky. Most of these bits of weirdness do seem to disappear after a while, so Bookfool is exercising her patience skills.

Coming up next: A review of First Light by Geoffrey Wellum and possibly a trip to AmazonUK because I observed that Wellum's commanding officer from 92 Squadron (where Wellum was posted during the Battle of Britain) has also written a memoir. How cool is that?

Gotta go. Life keeps interfering with blogging time.


  1. Sounds like you're in Edit HTML mode instead of Compose mode. Check the little tabs on top of the box where you compose your post. Hope that helps.
    And lol about the sign falling down!

  2. Nat,

    Thanks, I'll look the next time I post! I can't believe the sign really fell. It wasn't even on the ground right beside the gate - it was way off to the side. Weird!!!

  3. I just looked and you're right, Nat! That was it! Thanks so much for the help. :)

  4. Sounds interesting, but I agree that it doesn't seem very plausible.
    I would think the parents would concentrate more on the slightly handicapped child. That seems to be the norm.

  5. No problem! Glad to be of service! :P

  6. Angela,

    I didn't think about that. There's a lot to roll around your brain in that book. :)


    I missed my colored highlighting capability. I owe you one. :)

  7. Anonymous2:33 PM

    It sounds interesting. It seems somewhat plausible that a set of (bad) parents could ignore virtually both children in order to feed whatever their egos needed.

    If that actually applies to the book since I haven't read it!

    Hawks? In the parking lot? Those birds get around!

  8. Carrie,

    Exactly; you understood what I was trying to get across about the Tangerine parents. My parents were pretty hands-off at times and had their favorite areas in which they pushed us to excel (plus, we've run across some of those obsessive athletic parents), so I could relate in some ways.

    The hawks were flying over the parking lot a bit, but there are trees behind and to the side. We're rather heavily forested in Vicksburg, although the old-growth trees are being harvested at an alarming rate in our area. Anyway, they were mostly over the treetops but it still surprised me to see hawks at the doctor's office!!!

  9. Hi there! I have a question regarding the Chunkster Challenge: Can I add and/or change a book? I started my original book THE LONESOME DOVE and I like it, but I just can't do it right now. Not only is it forever long, the print is small. It feels like an overwhelming task with the current pressures of life. I want to add TWILIGHT (Meyers)...the lengthy (498 pages) YA book. I'm going to read that now and hopefully later I can pick up DOVE again. I guess I just want to know if it'll count here. So, what do you think? :)

  10. Glad you liked Tangerine. I enjoyed it too, but the same bits you mentioned gave me real problems. I find it hard to believe that the parents would be so divorced from reality. I know it happens, but still. Comeon!

    I was going to say the same thing Nat did about HTML mode. My blogger has been switching the view automatically to HTML right after I upload pics.

  11. Joy,

    Definitely, feel free to change to another book. The chunkster challenge is meant to be flexible and 400+ pages or whatever intimidates you was the minimum. Go for it. :)


    I wondered if you'd cringed at the parents' behavior. It was odd, wasn't it? Yeah, some parents are divorced from reality, but Paul's parents were extreme.

    Now that I know what the deal is with the edit/compose modes, I'll know to watch! Blogger can be freaky, but I love it. :)

  12. I'm worried about those potential stick-figure injuries too! hehe Exciting about the hawks!!

  13. LOL, Heather! We have to protect our stick people!!

  14. Anonymous6:16 PM

    Hey, if you're looking to order books from the UK, check out The Book Depository - they're based in the UK and don't charge for shipping. I haven't used them myself (yet!) but I've seen other bloggers rave about them.

  15. Lesley,

    Thanks! I'll definitely look them up. I have my mind set on reading that other WWII memoir. :)


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