Artichoke’s Heart

Supplee, Suzanne

 

Dutton Books, New York. 2008.276 p.

 

I knew nothing about this book when I picked it up besides the fact that I liked the cover. Its brown background covered in chocolates wrapped in pink grabbed my attention. I was probably just hungry, but after reading a few pages, I decided to stick with it. And I’m glad (I think) that I did.

 

This is the story of Rosemary Goode (whose nickname is Artichoke, something you come to understand through reading the book) and her struggle to lose weight and accept herself. She’s 15 at the beginning of the book and lives in a small town outside of Nashville called Spring Hill. She is highly intelligent and excels in English. Her time after school is mostly spent working in her mother’s beauty parlor. Sounds pretty normal. But Rosemary has an obsession with food, and over the winter holidays her weight balloons up to 203 pounds. She has candy bars stashed under her bed and can barely walk past the fridge or pantry without being mercilessly tempted by something inside. She knows she has to do something or her weight will just continue rising and she’ll be unhappy for the rest of her life.

 

I’m sure this book sounds cliché, and at points I will admit it can be. Southernisms are used a little too obviously and frequently, but I can’t compare Supplee, a first-time author, to a great Southern female writer like Flannery O’Connor. O’Connor makes you know you’re in the South in subtle ways, Supplee is a little more obvious. And of course Rosemary’s weight is referred to in all sorts of ways, some gentle and others a little more painful. But regardless, I enjoyed this story in spite of myself. Rosemary does just what you would expect her to do—she starts losing weight, makes friends with one of the most popular girls in school, and even lands the school basketball star. But it’s not the ending; it’s the story that makes Rosemary interesting and likable. I wish I could say I can’t relate to Rosemary, but sometimes I can, and I think it’s important for young girls to have someone like her to guide them when the people around them can’t. Rosemary goes through the typical teenage girl struggles and more in this book, and she is really someone a reader can relate to and look up to.

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