You’ve got to love a book that features a giant sinkhole gobbling up portable middle-school classrooms.
Tangerine’s got that and so much more. There are also underground fires, mosquitoes, termites and a psychopathic sports hero.
This is the story of the Fisher family, who move to Lake Windsor Downs, Florida in search of “The Erik Fisher Football Dream.” Erik can kick 50-foot field goals all day. He’s also an out-of-control bully who enjoys terrorizing and hurting people.
Erik’s middle-school-aged brother Paul is the only member of the family who realizes that there’s something wrong with his brother. Their mother is too busy running the neighborhood association. (She refers to neighbors as “the two-story-Lancaster with the teal trim” or “the white Tudor with the red tile roof.) Their father is preoccupied living vicariously through Erik’s stardom.
The Fisher’s story is reflected in the hastily-built community of Lake Windsor Downs. Things look great on the outside, but, like Erik’s dreams, they’re about to get sucked into a big hole.
Developers threw up the houses on top of bulldozed tangerine groves. They covered the earth with white sand and built a perimeter wall, but nature seems determined to get the last laugh. Lightning storms blast afternoon football practices. Underground “muck” fires smolder in backyards. When the neighborhood association tries to douse the never-ending fires, they create a pestilence of mosquitoes.
But the sinkhole is still my favorite.
After his overcrowded school’s portable classrooms slide into the mud, Paul Fisher switches schools to attend Tangerine Middle, where he joins the soccer team. Paul is an athlete in his own right, and soccer fans will enjoy the play-by-play of several matches.
Paul’s teammates are a tough group of kids who spend much of their off-time sweating in the remaining tangerine groves to help a local man who’s life’s dream is developing a new variety of tangerine. Erik has the citrus farmer attacked, which eventually leads to a face off between students from Tangerine and Lake Windsor Downs.
It’s time for Paul to break family tradition and tell the truth.
This book is shelved with the junior fiction, but it’s a fun, quirky read for all ages.