Synopses & Reviews
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.
Peter knows that if he could just lose weight, develop a brand-new personality, and get rid of those pesky talking nipples, he'd be able to find the acceptance he desperately craves. But it isn't easy to change who you really are, and Peter, ready or not, is finally forced to confront his secret self. Hilarious and exquisitely touching, this is the funniest and most memorable novel you'll read all year.
"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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Brian Francis' absurd, charming debut superbly portrays Peter's inner life....[S]weet, tart, and forbidden in all the right places. (Grade: B+)" Entertainment Weekly
"[A] funny, honest gay coming-of-age story about a boy who finally confronts his secret self." Booklist
"A promising debut from a writer with a great sense of empathy for a young boy struggling with his identity." Winnipeg Free Press
Thirteen-year-old Peter Paddington is plump and the recipient of ridicule from his classmates. To cope with his pain, he screens "bedtime movies" in his head perfect-world fantasies in which Peter is thin, confident, and the object of his "boy friends'" desire for friendship, and maybe more.
About the Author
Brian Francis lives in Toronto. This is his first novel.