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Tangerine Novel

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by Edward Bloor

The Book

Paul Fisher's family is moving from Texas to Florida for a number of reasons. The most important one seems to be so that Paul's older brother Erik can impress the football scouts at some major universities. Indeed, most of what his parents do seems to be part of what Paul calls "The Great Erik Fisher Football Dream." It is not that Paul is jealous. He, too, possesses some tremendous athletic ability on the soccer field despite being legally blind. But Erik is the favored son, indulged by parents, teachers, coaches, and friends, even though Paul knows that Erik's behavior is less than perfect. The move to Tangerine, Florida, might just open the eyes of everyone in the Fisher family.


Look back through Tangerine and choose what you think is the most important word or concept from this book. Don't just choose the title or a character's name Ð'-- choose a word that is actually in the book that you feel sums up what the whole book is really about. Share your reasoning with others. Did any of you choose the same word? Explain the insights into Tangerine 's theme that your choice of most important word offers.


Paul fears his brother's physical retaliations, is angry at his father's apparent favoritism toward his brother, and resents his mother's apparent inability to see Erik for what he really is. Erik, therefore, appears to be the root of Paul's problems. Is this true? Is Erik the main conflict that Paul faces? If Erik is what caused and continues to cause Paul's problems, what caused, and perhaps continues to cause, Erik's problems?


Paul's subdivision was built on a foundation of termite-infested ground, next to a field that constantly burns muck fires, near a school that is built on land that becomes a sinkhole. In what ways is the setting of the town of Tangerine a metaphor for Paul's life? What is it that eats away at Paul's foundation? What fire burns constantly in Paul's life? What is it in Paul's life that collapses just as the ground collapses into a sinkhole?


The volunteer firefighter on page 15 says, "Muck fires don't go out. They're burning all the time.... Sometimes the rain'll damp them down, but they're still smoldering." What is Paul's muck fire that is always burning? What are the muck fires for Paul's parents, for Erik, for Antoine Thomas? At the end of the book, the wind has shifted and the odor and smoke from the muck fire is blowing away from Paul. Is that symbolic of what has happened in Paul's life?

On page 244 as he digs in the ground behind his home on the day of Luis's funeral, Paul admits that he is finally seeing things that he has never seen before. What can he now see on page 244? What is the dirt of his life that was "burned, buried, plowed, coated and landscaped?"


Choose one of the following characters from Tangerine: Paul, Erik, Joey, Theresa Cruz, Vincent, Mr. Fisher, Mrs. Fisher. Create a scrapbook that this character would have made. Include artifacts mentioned in the novel or inspired by details in the text. Under each item, write a brief paragraph from the character's point of view that explains why this item was included in the scrapbook.



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