It’s weird—Paul Fisher is the main character in Tangerine

It’s weird—Paul Fisher is the main character in Tangerine, but he doesn’t feel like the main character in his own life. His big brother Erik is the star of the family, and his parents spend most of their time fawning over him, and ignoring Paul. So a lot of this book is about Paul’s search for his own identity, and a way for him to become the star in his own life.Paul’s got a major stumbling block on his way to figuring out who he is, though. Something traumatic happened to him in kindergarten, something that nearly blinded him, something that makes him have to wear super thick glasses, and even crazy strong prescription goggles for sports. But he can’t remember what it was that happened. He has periodic flashbacks of related events, but no matter how hard he tries, he can’t recall what hurt his eyes.
Up until this point in his life (his seventh grade year), he’s always accepted the explanation that Erik had spread around at school—that Paul had looked directly at the sun during an eclipse like a big dummy. But now, he’s starting to question that story. He just can’t believe he would have been stupid enough to do that, and he hates the thought of being a cautionary tale to others: “I was the boy who had not listened and who was now paying the price. Look at me if you dare!” (1.6.10).
(Oh, and if you’re starting to think that this book has a serious bug in its eye about vision, you’d be right. Check out “Symbols: “Paul’s Glasses” for more on that.)