One of the great things about being friends with so many teachers and librarians is that I constantly get exposed to books that I might never have found on my own. This week, I’ll write about my most recent experience in that vein. The book in question?
Tangerine by Edward Bloor is a wonderfully weird book with a lot going on between its covers. Disability, bullying, sociopathic teens, class conflict, family secrets, environmental disasters, death by lightning…and somehow it all fits together. Bloor’s novel has a streak of dread running through it. Everywhere you look, something dangerous lurks just out of view, ready to explode onto the scene — from Paul’s fuzzy-yet-ominous memories of past trauma, to the sinkholes beneath his school, to the violent temper within his older brother Erik.
Thankfully, 12-year-old Paul is a terrific narrator who is often funny, or the number of bad things that occur in this book might be unbearable. It’s his journal that chronicles the events in Tangerine, viewed through the Coke-bottle glasses without which Paul is legally blind — again tying back to this theme of what can and can’t be seen.
I don’t know if this is a book for all tastes — it’s definitely on the high end of middle grade, if not edging into YA territory. (I refuse to call anything “tween,” even if that is a thing now.) Still, if you don’t mind a little darkness, this is seriously well-written and thought-provoking.