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Fruit: A novel about a boy and his nipples Paperback – May 1, 2004

4.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Thirteen-year-old Peter Paddington suffers through a year of eighth grade in this entertaining debut novel, set in Sarnia, Canada, in 1984. In some ways Peter is an average awkward teenager—hair sprouting in unexpected places, a lack of friends, curiosity about religion. But in other ways he's different—he weighs 204 pounds, and swollen nipples ("two small cherries") have just surfaced on his doughy chest. Soon these nipples take on a life of their own, actually speaking to Peter and giving him unsolicited advice. A vividly drawn dysfunctional family fills out the novel's landscape; most of this dysfunction revolves around food and weight and Peter's menopausal, smothering mother, Beth. Peter's long-suffering father, Henry, works a factory job in Chemical Valley, his thin sister Christine does her best not to associate with her family, his sister Nancy dumps her fat boyfriend to discover her "new" self, and his Uncle Ed is an overweight, closeted homosexual. The fluid, lively narrative is punctuated with a series of "Bedtime Movies," fantasies in which Peter is loved, popular and famous, propelled out of his fat, sad existence. Despite its fantastical twists, the novel hews closely to familiar coming-of-age formulas, but its hapless narrator is a winning hero.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

"How was I going to make it without anyone finding out my terrible secret?" Peter knows there are plenty of things wrong with his body. He is planning to start his diet any day so that he will be thin and normal by high school. But it's his deformed nipples, suddenly big and swollen as two cherries, that really scare him. He tries to strap them down. He even goes Catholic for a while and prays to the Virgin in his closet to shrink them--and to make the most gorgeous guy in his class give him a call. The time is 1984, but the dream of being "normal" is universal. Both hilarious and gentle, the young teen's voice is pitch-perfect, capturing not only his self-obsession and bedtime fantasies about being Brooke Shields in a shiny pink dress but also his family problems and his generous friendship with the foul-mouthed girl across the street. Without a didactic word, this first novel tells a funny, honest gay coming-of-age story about a boy who finally confronts his secret self. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 278 pages
  • Publisher: ECW Press (May 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1550226207
  • ISBN-13: 978-1550226201
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,697,599 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Wonderful and strange novel about an overweight teenaged boy whose nipples talk to him. Sounds weird, right? And it is, but it's also gut-wrenchingly honest and open, and any kid who's ever struggled with a weight problem (or with a sexual identity crisis, for that matter), will completely relate to thirteen year-old Peter Paddington. Horrified by his huge nipples (or, as they'd call them on Seinfeld, "man boobs"), which he's sure all the kids can see through his tee-shirt, Peter starts by wrapping his chest in loops of masking tape. But as his nipples start to become raw and sore, he begins imagining that they are making fun of him for being so ashamed of himself, and yearning to be set free. Just about this same time, Peter starts to realize he's not like the other boys -- that he's just not attracted to girls. But he doesn't have any concept of what that means. Does that mean he's a freak? He sure feels like a freak. A fat, stupid freak. As time passes and his nipples keep voicing the thoughts that are deep down in his head, Peter slowly begins to come to terms with himself, and to learn how to overcome the things he can beat (like his weight problem) and embrace the things that just make him HIM. This novel is totally sweet and funny and gentle. I loved every word and can't wait for more from this new Canadian author.
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By Diplocaulus on September 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Fruit is funny and clever. It's a remarkably quick read, though the prose doesn't suffer for it.

Our narrator, Peter, goes through his last year of life before entering high school by delivering papers, indulging in weird fantasies, spending time with his foul-mouthed neighbor, seeing the Virgin Mary in the woodwork of his closet door, and struggling with his weight, his inflamed nipples, and his family.

Written in first person, the book reads as Peter's immediate thoughts, focusing on narrating his life, but frequently drifting to tangents and fantasies of being popular and loved. The book is infused with a great sense of humor which grows out of Peter's weird friends and family and also his own naiveté about the world and himself. As Peter himself isn't ready to face some of the realities he needs to, the book deftly touches on several issues without coming to neatly-wrapped and false-feeling conclusions.
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Format: Hardcover
Peter Paddington, at over two hundred pounds, is constantly bullied and picked on by his classmates as well as his two older sisters. In spite of his weight, I am sure every pre-adolescent can identify with Peter, the 13-year-old protagonist in Fruit: A Novel About a Boy and His Nipples by Brian Francis. I had forgotten some episodes in my life at that age yet Francis took me back to a very insecure time in junior high school. Perhaps one episode not common to many--or any--is that Peter's nipples talk to him. They have voices that only Peter can hear. His nipples argue with him and represent his inner voice or his suppressed truth. In order to silence them, as well as to keep them in place since his chest does have a habit of bouncing out of control, he binds them with tape. Peter starts with transparent tape, making starlike pasties for each nipple. Then he moves on to masking tape which he wraps around his entire body, binding them in place. After repeated trips to the local store to buy more and more masking tape make him paranoid what the salesman will think of him, Peter tries a wide elastic bandage, which ensheathes his cherry-sized nipples. He spends the entire duration of the novel struggling with his loquacious nipples, never knowing when they will have another physical or verbal outburst.

Fruit, a finalist in the 2009 CBC "Canada Reads" competition, is one of the fastest books I have ever read. Francis writes dialogue so realistic that I could hear it being spoken. I am a tragically slow reader, not turning a page until I have grasped everything that the writer intended--and then nine times out of ten flipping back to reread pages after the writer explains more later on. It's a wonder I ever finish a book at all.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Peter Paddington is an overweight 13-year-old paperboy...with man-boobs. Any guys who have struggled with their weight as a teenager knows it's just downright embarrassing to be cursed with man-boobs.

What's even worse is that Peter has imaginary conversations with his nipples. His nipples are telling him what to do even to the point of daring him.

Peter is just a fat paperboy who is just not quite like the other guys. He isn't into sports, which is a disappointment for his dad. He rather be in Home Ec. class. He trades stickers with the girls. He has fantasies about the cute married man across the street. He "makes sperm" with the showerhead. Can you say gay? However, *Fruit* doesn't really dwell much on homosexuality but rather implies it. More like we all know he's gay but he doesn't know it himself.

His goal is to be skinny and normal like the other guys by the time he hits 9th grade in the Fall. However, he keeps postponing the day that he'll really start the diet. He has to deal with his family. His mother is going through The Change. His father is just distant. His sisters are fighting more than usual. His embarrassing and talkative Uncle Ed keeps hanging around.

*Fruit* is a simple read with some occasional humor. The talking nipples is just really odd as having man-boobs is already embarrassing enough.
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