Friday, September 4, 2009

Realistic Fiction—Young Adults

Middle School

Tangerine by Edward Bloor

Bibliographic Information:
Bloor, E. (1997). Tangerine. Orlando, FL: Harcort, Inc.

Seventh grader, Paul, and his family move from Houston to Tangerine, Florida. Their new neighborhood and house seem very nice and fancy, but things are not always as they appear to be. Nor is Paul's older brother, Erik. Paul is scared of Erik, but he can't remember why. Throughout the book, Paul slowly remembers incidents with Erik, until he finally remembers the most important one. By making friends along the way, Paul finds a complete and happy life for himself in the strange community in Tangerine County, Florida.

Lead Comments:

I love this book because there are so many twists and so much more than that which appears on the surface. There is more to Paul's neighborhood, Lake Windsor Downs. More to Lake Windsor Middle School. More to Erik Fisher. More to Tangerine Middle School. More to Luis' head wound. And much more to Paul. Underneath the surface of each one of these is something bad or something good. This book is like a tangerine, you have to peel off the outside layer to find what is in the inside.

Publishers Weekly: (Excerpt)
Living in surreal Tangerine County, Fla., a legally blind boy begins to uncover the ugly truth about his football-hero brother... (Retrieved October 16, 2009 from

The ALAN Review: (Excerpt)
Tangerine is a town in Florida with problematic new housing developments, frequent lightning strikes, sinkholes, and muck fires... Paul, a soccer goalie, is in competition for his parents' attention with his older brother who is a football star... Paul makes friends at the new school and learns some valuable lessons by working in the tangerine groves with his peers from the town school. Paul's brother's involvement in the death of his friends' uncle brings back memories of how he lost his vision... Recommend this novel to students with an interest in soccer or students who move often. (Retrieved October 16, 2009 from

Teacher Tools & Library Leads:

There are many discussion/essay opportunities that arise from the book by using the angle that things are not always as they appear on the surface. Are things really much better in the nice neighborhoods? Are things really bad in the old run-down school? Are all tough kids really bad? Are all football heros really good?

Then there are the environmental issues in the book. Very similar neighborhoods are built here in the Rio Grande Valley where orange and grapefruit groves were plowed under. How is this similar to Paul's neighborhood, how is it different? Students can research the lightening storms in Tangerine to see if it is really the Lightening Capitol of the Country, or research muck fires and what causes them.

High School
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Bibliographic Information:
Anderson, L.H. (2009). Wintergirls. New York: Viking.

Summary:Lia is anorexic. She has already been admitted twice, but has not recovered. Then her best friend, Cassie, dies. How? Why? Lia, haunted by Cassie's ghost, continues to spiral downward. Lying, cheating, doing drugs, running; all for the sake of skinny. Will Lia be the next to die or can she find a reason to keep living?

Lead Comments:

A very difficult book to read. You get wrapped up in Lia's world, feel her pain and hunger, feel her body falling apart as dehydration and starvation work their effects on it. Anderson does a great job of expressing the anguish Lia feels and gets you into the head of an anorexic figure. At times you want to put down the book to escape the pain, other times you need to keep reading so you can help Lia escape.
Anderson illuminates a dark but utterly realistic world . . . this is necessary reading. Starred review (Retrieved October 16, 2009 from

School Library Journal: (Excerpt)
...After the death of her former best friend Cassie, 18-year-old Lia slowly spirals toward her own death, drowning in guilt while starving, cutting, and running on a treadmill in the middle of the night in this emotional novel..., winner of the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award... Lyrically visual, this starkly truthful and chilling first-person tale...of a teen girl's struggle with anorexia. Terry Ann Lawler, Phoenix Public Library, AZ (Retrieved October 16, 2009 from

Teacher Tools & Library Leads:

Many teen issues are covered in Wintergirls, such are eating disorders, depression, cutting, death of a close friend, and lack of parental understanding. Many teen girls, and boys, too, will be able to relate to at least one of these issues, which can be used as springboards for discussion or journal writing.
Lia finally decides to get better. What caused her to finally decide? Why didn't she want to get better before? Lia writes some poetry while getting treatment. Have students write poems that would be similar to what Lia might write.

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