All things thirteen

I’ve been reading a wonderful book (and a Canada Reads selection) called Fruit: A Novel About a Boy and his Nipples. It’s the painfully funny story of 13-year-old Peter Paddington, a boy in the process of discovering his own sexuality.

It’s one of those books that could have been written for adults or for teens. It seems to be marketed as an adult novel, but my local library had it filed in the young adult miniature shelf (um… I mean section). And the subject matter is poignantly funny for those who may have gone through that awkward early teen stage involving glasses, retainers, and Laura-Ingalls-haircuts (ahem), while also ideally appropriate for anyone currently living through it.

I loved everything about the inside of the book. But here’s my problem: what young teen is going to buy a book with the word “nipples” on the cover?

I showed it to Min.

TK: When you were 13, would you have bought this book?

MK: What? Absolutely Not!

But then, Min’s never bought a book in his life. I showed it to my friend Leanne.

TK: When you were 13, would you have bought this book?

Leanne: Um… well… no. But maybe if it was recommended by a librarian or an aunt bought it for you or something?

Yeah. And then your 13-year-old self would be so horrified that your librarian or your aunt had thought a book about a sexually confused 13-year-old with talking nipples was appropriate for you that you would avoid eye contact with said adult for at least the next decade.

It’s clear that author Brian Francis remembers every detail of the unmitigated mortification involved in being 13. So… why would he choose this subtitle? His main character can’t even buy Scotch tape without feeling nervous. There’s no way Peter Paddington would ever have been able to buy a copy of Fruit.

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