FRUIT by Brian Francis


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Peter is an average eighth grader, except that his nipples are speaking to him.

It must be said that newcomer Francis has found one of the more ingenious, bizarre, and creepily affecting metaphors for this time of life. At the beginning of eighth grade, Peter Paddington—already a few strikes behind in the popularity game, being overweight and chronically insecure—has a new problem to contend with: his nipples have popped out. They were now “round and puffy and not the two pink raisins they used to be.” Not only that, but the nipples are also speaking to him, telling him not to be such a wuss, stand up for himself, and all those things that scared young boys hate to hear. Terrified that people will notice the change in his body, Peter wraps tape around his chest to keep things hidden. Everything that’s going on with Peter—from his nipples to the hair that keeps sprouting horridly all over his body and the powerful feelings he has for the handsome and much more popular Andrew Sinclair—is perfectly normal, of course, but to a frightened and lonely teenager it’s like living inside a bad horror movie. All this could be helped if Peter had anybody to talk to about things, but his only real friend is Daniela from across the street, who’s too busy raging against her parents to pay Peter any mind. His smothering mother keeps imploring him to go make a “boy friend,” and his sympathetic father is hardly the communicative type, leaving Peter to sort himself out. Francis has a true gift for the roiling mental interior of adolescence, and his refusal to cop out with false dramatics makes this an uncommonly honest piece of work.

A lovely and odd take on a time many of us would just as soon forget.

Pub Date: Aug. 20th, 2004
ISBN: 1-931561-76-1
Page count: 284pp
Publisher: MacAdam/Cage
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2004