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  • Peter
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on April 10, 2001
I was glad to see that "Peter" was back in print. When I first read it, I was very impressed. It explores coming out without sentimentality, gay bashing without getting too violent, and feelings without getting maudlin.
Peter Dawson is a typical boy. He likes dirt-biking, fast cars, and photography. (He has his own darkroom.) Then one day he notices that he is very attracted to his older brother's best friend. Only, his brother's best friend is gay. He begins to wonder what this says about him. He tries to get advice from a youth hotline. When he finds that there is no straight answer forthcoming, he tests himself by looking at pictures in a gay magazine. In short, he does everything that a boy, alone, without suport, can do to find out about himself. The only thing of which he is really sure is that he can't share his doubts with his parents or his friends.
The story is told with sensitivity and compassion. Kate Walker must have had a friend go through all of this. She captures the picture almost perfectly.
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on July 2, 2004
One of the glories of Kate Walker's "Peter" is the distinctive, realistic voice of its 15-year-old narrator. Peter is every bit the teenaged firecracker, making the kind of observations that anyone who has ever been that age can relate to. There is humor and poignancy in his musings about others and their perceptions of him. It doesn't matter if you're from Australia, the U.S., or elsewhere -- this kid has the same wariness of adults, tussles with his older brother, and struggles over friendship, sex, and love. Those struggles come powerfully to the forefront as Peter gets to know David, the charismatic 20-year-old gay friend of his older brother.
American readers will have to adjust a bit to the Aussie references and lingo, but Walker's writing is such that even without firsthand experience with the particulars you know what she's referring to. Similarly with all the descriptions of dirtbike riding -- Walker's prose lets you smell the smoky exhaust and hear the high-pitched buzz of the engines as they strain to climb a steep hill. You don't need to be a rider yourself to get drawn into this well-imagined world.
The most important part of the book, of course, is the story it tells of Peter and his reaction to David. What starts as curiosity about what it means to be gay gradually grows into fascination and finally a keen, trembling infatuation. Peter's toughguy friends seem to sense that something is going on with him (or maybe he's just imagining that they do?), and his attempts to cope with all the confusion lead Peter into some awkward encounters with girls. Eventually he is on the outs with his longtime best friend and contemplating every kind of escape -- Should he become a priest? Run away? He attempts to disguise his vulnerability with posturing and fist-fights, but as he begins to accept at least the possibility that he and David might have something in common, he slowly comes to grips with who he is.
The last section of the book, where Peter tries to take control of the situation and approaches David to act on his attraction to him, packs a tremendous emotional wallop. By this point, events in the story have created dramatic tension on levels aside from the merely sexual. Wisely, rather than turn the scene into one based solely on physical desire, Walker makes it about what matters even more -- Peter's confusion, his sense of isolation, his desperate need for compassion, love, and understanding. His ultimate emotional breakthrough and David's reaction are very moving.
The resolution of the story has nothing to do with sexual goings-on, so a reader looking for that kind of payoff is going to be disappointed. I think that the ending is just what it needs to be. Peter's story is about self-discovery. He learns that he must accept who he is before he can have a truly meaningful connection with another person. The final pages of the book leave you knowing that what he shared with David has made them closer. David will remain in his life, for now only as a mentor, but we also realize that Peter hasn't given up entirely. He still might pursue something more when he has come of age.
Characterizations in the book are vivid all around -- Peter himself; his wanna-be toughie friends; his older brother Vince; his open-minded mom and close-minded dad; his best friend Tony and Tony's sister Sophie; and Mrs. Minslow, the family housekeeper whose nosey nature ultimately pushes events to the brink.
This book was originally published in 1991, yet is still timely. Like all good literature, it holds its own outside of time and geography. Very, very highly recommended.
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VINE VOICEon March 19, 2005
Peter is a very well written book, is blunt, honest - almost painfully so - and NOT rife with typical stereotypes. It's not written in a high school setting where hormones are hopping out of everyone's garments. Instead, it takes place in the street, in the homes of the main characters, on the bike paths, and in Peter's head.

There was definitely a language barrier given the Aussie lingo. But it wasn't much of a holdup. You got the idea.

I did think that Peter's realizations about himself - after learning that his brother's friend David was a "poof" - came a bit too quickly. However, everyone comes to grips with their sexuality at their own pace. Sometimes the revelations don't even occur to a person until they're in their 20s, sometimes people know from birth. So it is entirely believable that Peter had absolutely no thoughts about boys whatsoever until he met David. Still, this is dubious, because let's face it, hormones are flying at an incomprehensible rate, so who was he fantasizing about? That topic is rarely discussed in gay teen literature. Perhaps it's thought of as too taboo.

However, once he started making the connection, his process was extremely believable. I particularly enjoyed the double dates he went on, and his rejection of Gloria. Walker's description of Gloria, for what it's worth, was spot on. David's support, when he hugged and held him, was truly a touching scene.

I loved that this book contained very, very few stereotypes. There was a slight overemphasis on the "masculinity" of bike riding and cars, but aside from that, I could find little fault.
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on June 30, 2003
Although I am a frequent Amazon.com shopper, I actually bought this book from a vendor at the Anchorage PrideFest gay pride festival. I was absolutely riveted by the book and finished it in one day. The book tells the story of Peter Dawson, who is in the early stages of coming out. Peter just wants what most young men his age want, to fit in with his friends and ride his motorcycle. Young and naive, he is quick to dismiss some people prematurely, including his brother Vince, some of whom turn out to be ok. (He is right about others) Peter's life becomes more complicated when he meets David, a gay friend of his straight brother - a unique twist for a book - and has his stereotypes of gays shattered. At the same time he comes to realize that his own assumptions about "who he is supposed to be," while right for many of his friends and his brother, isn't his reality. When Peter finally acknowledges his own destiny, it is David who ultimately comes through for him, but not in the overly sexual, "Cinderella" fashion that many other books take. The story was moving and is not only a must read, but also a must have for any P-FLAG or GLSEN library. Hopefully Kate Walker will keep herself busy writing many more books. It once again proves, as with Patricia Nell Warren, that many of the best books about gay men are written by women. Hit the "Add To Shopping Cart" button for this one - you'll be glad you did!
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on December 1, 2012
This book is a wonderful surprise! A very well written story. Impossible we don't get involved with the characters. Peter is priceless, and the relationship with his brother, Vince, his mother, and David, give us a breathe of happiness and, why not, hope in believing that are people with free minds. The great surprise to me, and a good one, is the relationship with his brother. And what I desire for Peter: in three years from the "end" of the history, he meets David in the way he wants. This book must be read, indeed. It's a beautiful story.
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on January 20, 2015
The writer did a good job with the main characters- I adored the protagonist Peter, his crush, David and his older brother Vince. Vince is too cool in all the right ways, but as the older brother of Peter, he is also a jerk, that just makes him real. Mom and Dad were two dimensional as were Peter’s frenemies. The muddles and events that drove Peter in the book were well described, along with his angst – he has lots of angst and internal dialogs.

The book is extremely well written. There is not a lot of extraneous material, which means that as the reader you can focus on the story and zoom through the book. I wouldn’t call it a page turner in the sense of a whodoneit, but it certainly commands your attention and moves you right along. It’s broken into small chapters, many of which are around five pages – so it’s easy to find a stopping point if you are reading it while doing other things (like traveling).

My criticism of the book is that it’s appropriate, 100% appropriate all the time. The ending was appropriate and suitable, but it wasn’t romantic or exciting. Appropriate is good, it’s safe and it’s too vanilla, in my opinion. Your mileage may vary.

Triggers: basically none, the book is appropriate for most. Lots of colorful language, for those that care about such things. Several questions by adults to Peter inquiring if he were suicidal – but as readers we can see from his point of view that he never was. He is just confused about certain things. Is unrequited love a trigger? Zero sex, some muted innuendo. The book is safe and appropriate.

I recommend it because it is fun.
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on December 5, 2013
This is a coming of age story, but with something more. Peter is just discovering that he may indeed be gay, something that his friends and family wouldn't accept should they find out. When Peter's brother's friend comes into the picture, Peter must face who he really is.
I loved the writing style of this book. Easy to read. The only problem was it was too darned short! I wanted much more. It would be wonderful if there were a sequel to this book sometime in the future. I'd like to know how Peter turns out!
I highly recommend this book to anyone, especially good in school libraries.
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on August 20, 2014
I actually quite enjoyed this book, though I did personally feel it was too short and would had loved more of the book. I was able to finish this in one day but, I also finished it quickly since I really wanted to know what would happen next and how the story finished. I think the author touched the LGBT extremely well, I like how they stood away from the typical stereotypes and explored Peter's sexuality. Though, what is great - is that the book itself isn't completely focused on that, I personally enjoyed that. It didn't end sad, either, which was a nice touch (it only end with the desire of wanting to know more, what happen when Peter gets older, etc). Overall, I would recommend this, worth the read.
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on November 2, 2013
This is a story about a high school boy who is a bit of a loner and who slowly comes to grips with his sexuality. The relationships of this boy to his peers and his parents, especially to his detached father is explored as is the boy's ultimate emotional attachment to a young gay man whos is a friend of his older brother. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the well being of adolescent boys who are struggling with their sexuality and accepting of themselves for whom they are.
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on April 10, 2007
*Peter* is a simple read about a typical Australian teenager. Peter Dawson is like any other normal teenager. His divorced mother is working full-time as some health care specialist. His father comes and goes from time to time. He has a love/hate relationship with his older brother.

Peter enjoys his roaring bike. He has a group of peers that also enjoy bikes and motorcycles. These guys tease each other incessantly. Often, they'll be put on the spot to prove their masculinity or else they're "poofs".

However, these guys are riding near an area that has been fenced off. Peter has been told by his folks to get these guys away from the fence. Of course, the guys could care less. Peter is pressured to get the guys to comply with the rules. If he tells them to comply, then he'll be thought of as a poof. If he shrugs over it, he'll be cool. Ah, peer pressure...

Meanwhile, Peter also enjoys photography. He has his own dark room. Peter's older brother's friend from university, David has found out about Peter's hobby. David wants Peter to take pictures of him and his vehicle. However, Peter finds out that David is gay. When Peter finds out that his older brother, Vince, doesn't give a care about what people do behind closed doors, Peter adopts the same nonchalant attitude. However, he's curious about David.

A situation arises that Peter finds comfort in David's arms. When they're busted in their innocent embrace, Peter is forced to re-evaluate himself and his approaches to people. In a search for identity, Peter explores homosexuality and finds that he is not disgusted with it but rather nervous. Of course, this puts additional pressure on Peter as he knows that he'll be hassled by his friends as a poof.

I thought that *Peter* was a wonderful book that didn't dwell on the usual issues in other gay literature. *Peter* simply focused on a young man's awareness that he is indeed gay and the pressure that envelops such an awakening. The best part of it all was the last part where Peter develops his first crush with David. Of course, like some of our first crushes, Peter is crushed when he discover that David doesn't reciprocate the feelings.

For some of us, *Peter* will make us take a stroll down memory lane. Simply an easy read.
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