I hate when people designate books as "girl books" or "boy books" because a person's gender shouldn't determine what books they're allowed to read. However, it's impossible to get everyone in the world to understand this and it's impossible or near impossible to pass off The Princess Diaries to a 10 year old boy. With that in mind, I've tried to read more of what people consider "boy books." I should note that so far, girls would most likely enjoy each one I've read.
Tangerine, by Edward Bloor was a recent read of mine. I didn't realize that the book itself, published first in 1997, was not as recent. Moment of silence right now for the fact that the 90s are no longer recent. Okay, moment passed.
Stereotypical reason boys would like this book: Sports, both soccer and football, and fighting.
Let's move to dissecting that cover. It is atrocious. It looks like a generic sports book unless you've already read the book and can understand/appreciate the background. Soooo....yikes. But that's why they tell you not to judge a book by its cover.
Because this book is so much more beyond this atrocity. Paul Fisher, our protagonist, is legally blind, but can still see well enough to play amazingly at soccer. Doesn't matter though, because his brother, Eric, is a football hero whom everyone seems to worship despite the fact that he's a complete bully. Paul's family moves to Tangerine, Florida for his father's new job and the novel details Paul's struggles to be taken seriously in new schools, on soccer fields, and in his own home. This book uses race and class struggles, family strife, and disability to demonstrate Paul's journey to uncover the secrets of his family's past and establish himself as someone more than "Eclipse Boy."
I liked this book a lot. At about 300 pages, there's a good balance of all the drama. The only thing that felt like it was lacking closure was Joey's race issues, but I guess it speaks more to how some bad things just can't resolved. The characterization of the Fisher family is great though, especially the neurotic mother. She's just written so perfectly.
I would definitely recommend it to boys (and girls) fifth grade and up, especially if they were looking for realistic fiction and/or drama.