Artichoke’s Heart

by Suzanne Supplee
ages: 13+
First sentence: “Mother spent $700 on a treadmill ‘from Santa’ that I will never use.”

Weight is always a tricky subject. Writing about it, talking about it, thinking about it… everyone (read: girls and women) seems to have an opinion on it, obsess over it (or say they don’t obsess over it), or compare themselves to others. It’s a curse of today’s media-saturated age, but that’s a subject for another post.

Rosemary Goode is overweight (she thinks she’s obese, but she’s “only” 200 pounds, which to my mind is not obese, but then again, I’m not a health professional… and it’s mostly about how she thinks of herself anyway… so I tried to go with it). Her problem: food. (Well, duh.) She loves it. Craves it. Eats too much of it. Which is a problem of itself (inner pop psychologist refraining from commenting), but actually (couldn’t contain it. Sorry.) is a symptom of a larger problem: her mom. Rosemary’s mom, Rose Warren Goode, is the owner of Heavenly Hair in Spring Hill, Tennessee. She’s a single mom, getting pregnant with Rosemary when she was 17. She’s worked hard all her life: to be a successful businesswoman, to be a “good” (mom-issues in a YA book. Again.) mom, to be happy. She’s really close to her sister, Mary, and spends most of her free time with her (rather than her kid. No wonder Rosemary turns to food). Rosemary (obviously) resents this. But, because this is the South (I did love the voice in this book; it was very Southern. I felt like was back in Arkansas…), Rosemary just puts a happy face on, and goes through life the best she can. Because that’s what’s expected of her.

Except. She’s not happy. (Duh.)

Then she meets Kyle Cox. Well, “meet” is pretty strong. She reads about him in the school paper — he’s a jock — and he’s in her study hall. And he smiles at her. Which is the first little step she needs to get off her bum and do something about her habits. She goes on a liquid diet (issue: this girl crashed dieted to lose 45 pounds in the end. This bothered me. A LOT.), she starts exercising, she gets counseling (as a “trial experiment”). And when she starts losing weight she starts feeling better about herself… a little at a time. I don’t want to insinuate that it was a sudden, miraculous overnight change, because it wasn’t (something which I did like). But, once the pounds started coming off, she began to come out of her shell. (Are we saying that fat people just need to lose weight to feel good about themselves? That it’s impossible to love your body when your overweight? Rosemary’s target goal is 120 pounds — she’s 5 foot 6 — is that reasonable? See what I mean about weight being a loaded — sorry, no pun intended — subject?)

I did like the characters: Rosemary is a very sweet girl, and Kyle is adorable in his geekiness. But I had issues (being overweight myself) with this book. Not a bad one, but not my ideal fat-girl book either. Then again, I’m not sure there can be a fat-girl book that will please everyone. The issue is just too volatile. Which is too bad. (But that’s a subject for another post.)

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8 thoughts on “Artichoke’s Heart

  1. Thanks for the reveiw. I’ve had this book on by tbr pile for over a year and still haven’t gotten around to it because I havent’ spotted very many reviews to give me a sense of what the book is about. I think I may add this one to my 9 for 09 challenge this year.

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  2. Yup, I agree with the problems you pointed out. One thing I did like about this book is that Kyle likes her while she still a fat girl, before she loses all the weight.

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  3. You’re right, Abby. I should have pointed that out. Kyle is a sweetheart, and he doesn’t mind that she’s “fat”, and is a wonderful dear to her however she looks. 🙂 (He was also my favorite part of the book.)

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  4. Ok – this is the first time that I have even heard of this book (I know – I really must try to get out more). I was first drawn to your review by the title of the book; next, I was attracted by the first line; and finally, your review is GREAT. I will definitely add this to my TBR pile.

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  5. I agree with almost everything you say, Melissa. I loved certain parts of this book–Kyle in particular kept me turning pages. But I didn’t like the crash-dieting. I didn’t like the semi-message that you have to lose weight…and when you do your dreams will all come true…and they’ll start coming true right away too. I would have liked to see some self-acceptance before the weight started coming off.

    Also, I can’t remember because it’s been awhile, but how much time passes between her going off the liquid diet and the end of the book. It would have been interesting in a way (and realistic) for her to have some backsliding going on. I mean food/weight issues are a daily struggle. It isn’t just oh wow I’ve lost x amount of weight and all my troubles are over I’m ready to begin living life.

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  6. Geez, you had me until you wrote where she was all happy at the end because of all the weight she lost! Now girls will think that the only way a boy would truly like them is if they’re skinny!!!!!!!!!! Too bad that the author had to go that way!

    Thanks for a great review and spotlighting this touchy subject!!

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  7. I’ve been interested by this book, but some of the issus you pointed out make me hesitant. Probably I’ll borrow it instead of buying it!

    And while I’m here, you should know there is an award waiting for you by my blog! 🙂

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  8. I agree, Becky. I think the whole “guy likes me so I lose weight and then everything is happily ever after” is a bit much. And a big problem was with the time span: she lost 45 pounds in 5 months (between Christmas and Prom), which is a bit much (doable, but a bit much). And, yes, it would have been nice to see more of a challenge to maintain the weight. But I’m not sure that’s what the author was attempting to do.

    Staci, she wasn’t “skinny” at the end, she was less fat (about 160 pounds; she wants to be 120, which is probably unrealistic). And, to be fair, she did get the guy before she lost all the weight. The guy was the motivating factor to lose the weight, which is not exactly a positive message either. (Then again, do we really only need fiction books with positive messages? Then what would there be to discuss?)

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