In the real-life restaurant in Tangerine County, Florida, lightning strikes almost every afternoon during the summer. Lightning striking a field of lignite is the cause of muck fires. For the residents, it's nothing different than usual.
Thirteen-year-old Paul Fisher, who plays soccer despite a mysterious eye abrasion believed to have been caused by viewing an eclipse for too long, has recently moved to Florida after his father takes a job in civil engineering. Unlike his brother Erik, a high-school football star who is favored by the boys' father, Paul is unable to fit in with the new environment. Although he befriends Joey Costello, brother of Erik's fellow teammate Mike Costello, he struggles to fit in at his new school, Lake Windsor Middle. Even his interest in soccer is deflated, after the coach reveals that he is unable to play due to an insurance policy relating to his eyesight.
Mike is killed due to a lightning strike during football practice, and Erik makes fun of him in front of his younger brother, Joey, because when Mike was struck, one side of his hair fell off and Joey was trying to get his shoes off of Mike. Anyways, Paul learns through Joey to take control into his own hands, and after Lake Windsor Middle is partially destroyed because of a giant sinkhole, he jumps on the opportunity to move to Tangerine Middle in order to play soccer. On the first day of school, he is guided to classes by Theresa Cruz and later meets the soccer team itself--an assortment of people quite unlike any team he had played for. Victor Guzman and Tino Cruz, who is Theresa's twin brother, are both intimidating tough guys, who are regularly suspended from school, but they let Paul settle into their group.
One of the main characters introduced at that time is Luis Cruz, brother of Tino and Theresa Cruz. Luis is friendly to Paul whenever he heads over to the Cruz's citrus plantation to help work on their social science project. Luis's main ambition is to develop a new type of tangerine, the Golden Dawn, which is described as "seedless and juicy, able to grow in any climate," and is the basis for both the book title and the social science project. During this time, the Tangerine Middle School team manages to go undefeated for the entire season and later wins the title in a game against Lake Windsor Middle, Paul's former school.
But some strange things are going on in Paul's neighborhood. First, termites are taking over twenty-five houses on Paul's friend Joey's street, causing them to be tented so they can be sprayed with insecticide. Soon afterward, the tented houses are robbed. A vandalism act is soon committed in Paul's own backyard after Tangerine High School suffers a humiliating defeat at the hands of Lake Windsor High School's football team.
Things continue to spiral downwards as Luis confronts Erik at the Lake Windsor football field after Erik assaults Tino as he works with Paul during the aforementioned social science project. Erik's friend, Arthur Bauer, strikes Luis with a blackjack, and Luis dies mysteriously soon after, believed to be being struck by a frozen branch while in the nursery. Knowing that Luis had confronted Erik and had been struck, Theresa warns Paul to stay away. Later Antoine Thomas, a witness of Luis' injury and the star quarterback on the Lake Windsor football team, tells Paul to tell the truth, Paul tells his parents that he remembered the day that he injured his eyes. Yet Tino and Victor show up at the tree planting memorial to Mike Costello and strike Erik and Arthur. In the ensuing brawl, Paul jumps on the back of Lake Windsor's football coach in order to allow Tino to escape.
In the conclusion, Arthur Bauer is arrested for the robberies in the tented houses and for murdering Luis Cruz by hitting him over the head with a blackjack, bursting an aneurysm. Erik's sadism is fully delineated by the discovery that Paul's eye injury was not caused by an eclipse, but by Erik helping a friend spray paint in Paul's eyes. Paul is expelled from all public schools in Tangerine for his assault on the coach, but he is enrolled in what he calls a "nerd private Catholic school," St. Anthony's, leading to a new chapter of his life. Additionally, it is revealed that Antoine Thomas, the Lake Windsor star football player, is found out by the county officials that he lived in Tangerine with his mom and sister, Shandra Thomas who is on Paul's soccer team. School people are "shocked" because Antoine is not a resident of Lake Windsor Downs and is therefore not allowed to attend Lake Windsor High. He had in fact been faking residency in order to obtain a better chance at earning a college scholarship in athletics, and this revelation causes all of Lake Windsor High's football victories for the year to be invalidated. The final lines of the book show Paul smelling the "scent of a golden dawn", the fruit that Luis had spent his life developing.
Answered By: bluebubble - 12/11/2008