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Unveiling the Secrets of “Tangerine”

Tangerine by Edward Bloor: A Gripping YA Novel Exploring Identity, Mystery, and Environmental Themes

Tangerine” is a novel written by Edward Bloor, first published in 1997. This comprehensive book report delves into the intricate layers of the narrative, dissecting the characters, themes, and symbolic elements that contribute to the novel’s profound impact. The story revolves around a young boy named Paul Fisher, who moves to a new town with his family. The novel explores themes of identity, family dynamics, and the impact of societal expectations.

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The Fisher family relocates to Tangerine County, Florida, where the protagonist, Paul Fisher, is enrolled in a new school. Paul has visual impairment due to an incident involving lightning when he was younger, but he keeps this a secret from his new classmates. His older brother, Erik, is a skilled football player, and their parents are highly focused on his success, often overshadowing Paul.

As Paul starts attending Tangerine Middle School, he encounters various challenges, including bullying and a complex social hierarchy. The novel skillfully explores themes of discrimination, prejudice, and the impact of societal expectations on individual identity. Paul befriends other misfits at the school, including a girl named Joey and a group of students labeled as “Losers.”

One of the central conflicts in the story revolves around the mystery of the sinkhole at Tangerine Middle School and the consequences it has on the community. As Paul investigates the sinkhole, he unravels dark secrets and faces the truth about his own family.


Paul Fisher: The protagonist, a visually impaired boy with a passion for soccer.

Erik Fisher: Paul’s older brother, a talented football player with a troubled past.

Joey Costello: A girl at Tangerine Middle School who becomes Paul’s friend.

The Losers: A group of students ostracized by the mainstream social circles.


Identity: The novel explores how societal expectations and family dynamics shape individual identity.

Prejudice and Discrimination: Paul’s visual impairment and the social hierarchy at Tangerine Middle School highlight issues of discrimination and prejudice.

Family Dynamics: The relationship between Paul and his family, especially with his overbearing parents and successful brother, adds depth to the narrative.


Edward Bloor employs a first-person narrative through Paul’s perspective, allowing readers to experience the events through the eyes of the protagonist. The writing style is accessible to young adult readers while addressing mature themes.

Plot Development:

As Paul delves deeper into the mystery of the sinkhole, he discovers a connection between the environmental disaster and the choices made by those in power. The novel explores themes of environmentalism and the consequences of unchecked corporate interests. Paul’s determination to uncover the truth becomes a driving force, leading him to confront not only external challenges but also the internal conflicts within his own family.

The dynamics between Paul and his brother Erik evolve throughout the story, revealing the complexities of sibling relationships. Erik’s troubled past and the consequences of his actions become central to the narrative, forcing both brothers to confront the truth and find a way to reconcile their differences.

Friendships play a crucial role in Paul’s journey, particularly his bond with Joey and the group of students labeled as “Losers.” Through these relationships, the novel highlights the importance of acceptance, loyalty, and standing up against injustice. The Losers, despite their social status, prove to be a supportive and diverse group, challenging the conventional norms of popularity.


The title, “Tangerine,” itself holds symbolic significance, representing the layers of hidden truths beneath the seemingly ordinary surface of Tangerine County. The novel uses the fruit as a metaphor for the concealed realities and unexplored depths within the community.

The recurring motif of Paul’s visual impairment serves as a powerful symbol of perception and the ability to see beyond surface appearances. It becomes a metaphorical lens through which Paul gains insight into the true nature of the events unfolding around him.

Impact and Conclusion:

Edward Bloor’s “Tangerine” leaves a lasting impact with its exploration of societal issues, environmental concerns, and the intricacies of personal relationships. The novel’s resolution provides a sense of closure and redemption for the characters, reinforcing the themes of self-discovery and the importance of standing up for one’s beliefs.

In conclusion, “Tangerine” is a multifaceted and thought-provoking novel that goes beyond the conventions of young adult fiction. Through its engaging plot, well-developed characters, and exploration of relevant themes, the book offers readers a compelling and reflective journey into the complexities of adolescence and the world around us. Edward Bloor’s narrative craftsmanship and thematic depth make “Tangerine” a timeless and resonant work in the realm of young adult literature.

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