Fruit: A Novel About A Boy and His Nipples by Brian Francis is a heartfelt tale about 13-year-old Peter Paddington, who is overweight, gay, and unpopular. When his nipples poke out and start talking to him—with brutally honest opinions—he tries to shut them up by covering them with tape every morning. Unfortunately, his nipples seem to be the least of his problems. He’s going into high school, he’s very overweight, self-conscious about his body, and is uncertain about his sexuality.
What do you get when you cross the Virgin Mary with Brooke Shields, add a trash-talking beauty queen wannabe and throw in a couple of talking nipples? One of the most laugh-out-loud books you’ll read all year.
Peter Paddington is 13, overweight, the subject of his classmates’ ridicule, and the victim of too many bad movie-of-the-week storylines. When Peter’s nipples begin speaking to him one day and inform him of their diabolical plan to expose his secret desires to the world, Peter finds himself cornered in a world that seems to have no tolerance for difference.
Peter’s only solace is “The Bedtime Movies” — perfect-world fantasies that lull him to sleep every night. But when the lines between Peter’s fantasy world and his reality begin to blur, no one is safe from the depths of Peter’s imagination — especially Peter himself.
From the publisher, ECW Press
Brian Francis writes with honesty, humour and intelligence. He taps into the pre-teen mind and immediately brings you back to your own socially outcast years. It’s difficult to be Peter Paddington, and you really sympathize with him, even if you can’t relate.
I found the portrayal of Peter’s questions about his sexuality to be incredibly well-written. Although I can’t relate exactly with Peter’s uncertainty, I do remember similar questions of “is this normal?” Peter makes up Bedtime Movies which are non-sexual fantasies about the male figures in his life, which acknowledge his infatuation with the same sex.
The book doesn’t have much of a plot, but sort of follows different threads in Peter’s life: from friends and family to weight loss to his sexuality. Peter has a number of quirks and habits which I’m sure everyone can identify with at least one. For example… Peter volunteers in the school library at recess in lieu of having friends… I was totally a Library Monitor in elementary school. Also, his obsession with his body and trying to figure out if he’s gained weight (he does a knuckle test to measure his stomach fat).
Fruit offers a glimpse into Peter’s life and is a quick read, but has a bit of an anti-climactic ending. I’m not really sure what would have improved it for me, but I did enjoy reading it.
- Published by indie Canadian publisher, ECW Press
- Shortlisted for CBC Canada Reads 2009.
- The USA title is The Secret Fruit of Peter Paddington: A Novel
- Keepin’ It Real Book Club — blog review
- Unofficial Book Trailer for Fruit
- Reader of the Stack — blog review
- Pickle Me This — blog review