Book 48: The Secret Fruit of Peter Paddington – Brian Francis

The Secret Fruit of Peter Paddington - Brian FrancisWhen I picked up this novel the back cover read as follows, “Peter Paddington is your typical thirteen-year-old paperboy with a few exceptions. He’s 204 pounds, at the mercy of an overactive imagination, and his only friend is a trash-talking beauty queen reject from across the street. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Peter’s nipples pop out one day and begin speaking to him threatening to expose his private fantasies to an unkind world.”

So of course I had to purchase it and at only $2.99 it was a bargain.

Overall I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to find a copy, but if you stumble across it and it’s cheap you might enjoy reading it. It was a fun book to read, especially if you’re a ‘fat kid’ questioning your sexuality, or once were. And although my imagination is nowhere near as overactive as Peter’s and my nipples never talked to me, I couldn’t help but identify with Peter’s struggles and triumphs.

Throughout the novel Peter’s imagination guides us through his world and climaxes (pun intended) with his ‘bedtime stories’ and in particular his imaginary relationship with one of his paper customers, Mr. Hanlan. Even though the ‘bedtime stories’ and Peter’s imagination in general often come across as overwrought, it is the times when Peter’s imagination strives for ‘normalcy’ that the book struck home with me, and I imagine other readers as well. All Peter wants is to be accepted. He’s not asking for the world. Well, maybe he is asking for the impossible, but the humorous (and often realistic) way the author approached this allows a broader audience than just overweight questioning teenagers to identify with Peter’s story.

The majority of the characters come across a bit thin, but there are brilliantly written characters/personifications like the ‘trash-talking beauty queen reject’ Daniella and the talking nipples of course. From the passing crushes to his family members and the various adults, few other than Peter and Daniella left an impact after finishing the novel.

The book ends a bit abruptly with an interpretively harsh welcome to the world, where Peter decides he will lose weight and sticks to his diet, but is of slightlycourse counteracted by an equally improbable ‘bedtime story.’


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