Peeling a Tangerine

            Imagine that your entire life, you’ve played goalie in soccer. And you’re good. Then, your mom moves you away from your team and transfers you into a school in Florida. To make matters worse, she informs the office you have a disability that keeps you from ever playing soccer in school again. This is the dilemma Paul in Tangerine faces.

            Tangerine by Edward Bloor takes on the everyday kid-moves-towns plot and adapts it to be an exciting, forward-moving novel with heaps of plausible dialogue and plot twists that he artfully keeps from being overwhelming. Instead, Bloor made these elements necessary to the dozens of themes Bloor tackles, such as environmental problems, (as with the devastating sinkhole the school collapses into and the burning orange trees), and the corruption of power, (as with the under-the-table bribes officials accept from developers to declare land environmentally stable).

            Joey, Jason’s best friend and neighbor, stays especially plausible in his fearfulness and hesitance to jump at opportunities. He fears the stronger man, most significantly the forwards who played dirty on the Tangerine soccer team. However, Paul and Joey uses their friendship as a shield and faced soccer, school, and the death of Joey’s brother, Mike Costello, to a lightning strike, side by side.

            In Tangerine, wealth, and, as Paul needed to know, disabilities, remain unimportant. The working class kids helped Paul to understand that life isn’t for the entitled: you get hurt, and you hurt back. But you can’t let your tough insides affect your heart.

            Another overshadowing theme of Bloor’s masterpiece covers sibling rivalry and the psychology behind football. Paul’s brother, Erik, learns to be desensitized to violence through the combat of football, and besides terrorizing his brother, his strength and inability to see beyond himself inevitably leads to him killing a man.

            But, throughout all the death and sadness brought on by the themes of the book, Bloor keeps the tone hopeful and competitive. The first-person narrative in the book draws a reader close and makes the plot realistic, achieving an absolute ten to all readers, since Bloor avoids profanity and the themes are straight forward and understandable. Tangerine is an excellent example of how hard it can be to hold on to childhood innocence and the reality of how impossible it becomes to keep life from changing.