Brian Francis
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Buy *Fruit* online


Brian Francis
284 pages
August 2004
rated 3 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Adolescence is a nightmare for any kid, but even more so for one trapped in a corpulent body, developing hair in weird places, and, good intentions aside, not likely to ever start that promised diet while surrounded by an enabling family. With a moniker like Peter Paddington, a guy might as well be named Christopher Robin. Add in two older sisters for aggravation and every day is filled with self-loathing, deprecation and humiliation. Compensation is in order, hence Peter's imaginative "Bedtime Movies," little vignettes he imagines to lull himself to sleep.

Peter's school has its own social hierarchy, specific groups like the Athlete Group, the Short Group, the Geek Group, the Goody-Goody Group, the Indian Group, the Slut Group and the Banger Group. Of course, Peter is intimidated by most of these groups, especially the Banger Group whose members see him as an object for their amusement.

Peter's biggest disadvantage is that he has no point of reference for dealing with his social environment. He is grossly overweight, but so are his mother and one of his sisters, the other having dieted her way back to slimness. Unfortunately, each time Peter works up the determination to start a diet, he is sabotaged by the well-meaning efforts of a mother who whisper/screams and turns a blind eye to her son's problems.

His body developing in unexpected ways, Peter is particularly obsessed with a certain part of his anatomy that he believes talks to him (always the source of bad advice). In an attempt to stifle the dialogue, Peter resorts to the use of masking tape and later, an elastic bandage, all to no avail. As he bumbles into his fourteenth year, Peter actually makes progress of sorts, drawing from misinformation he gleans from those around him. From his little corner of Sarnia, Canada, Peter does what he can to fit in and get along, though ever a useful target for bullies.

The imagination necessary for his Bedtime Stories comes in handy when Peter strategizes a life plan. He may be without appropriate role models, but this young man has adapted well to his environment, perhaps too well, his greatest challenge on the horizon. Can he beat the odds and become the young fellow he only dreams of, “the new and improved Peter Paddington?" His incipient homosexuality lurking, this kid is nowhere near ready to be counted out. He is headed for a spectacular coming out.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Luan Gaines, 2004

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