TEEN LIBRARIAN'S REVIEW:
I had an advance copy of "Artichoke's Heart" probably since last January or so. From looking at the cover image of miniature chocolates imprinted with little hearts, hair dryers, and birds, I assumed this would be one of those mindless chick lit novels that are fun and frothy. That's not a complaint. Believe me, I have nothing against chick lit! When I actually got around to reading "Artichoke's Heart," I was so impressed with the depth of the story, the complexity of the relationships, and the strong, clear voice of the lead character, Rosemary. So, although this story involves one girl's first love, it's not just one-dimensional chick lit. I guess I really do need to get over this whole judging a book by its cover issue! 😛
Rosemary Goode is a great student, a capable helper at her mom's beauty salon, and, when she finally gets the chance, an awesome friend. But most folks — including Rosemary's pushy Aunt Mary and her well-meaning but somewhat distant mom — can't seem to look past Rosemary's weight. While her family nags her and classmates tease her, Rosemary takes comfort in eating, even though she feels terribly guilty after each binge. Despite her best efforts, Rosemary simply cannot stop obsessing about food and gorging on snacks and desserts. When an obese salon customer suffers a heart attack shortly after Christmas, it jolts Rosemary out of her cycle of overeating. She secretly starts drinking Pounds Away shakes and, on her mother's urging, visits a counselor. Rosemary even begins exercising in public, a brave move for a girl who knows full well just how big she is. Along her journey, Rosemary unexpectedly becomes friends with the perky and popular Kay-Kay. Even more shocking? "Delightfully Enormous Strapping Boy" (aka football player Kyle Cox), Rosemary's secret crush, seems to actually like her … even when she's at her absolute heaviest.
I loved nearly everything about this book, from the Southern flavor to the realistic mother-daughter relationship to the beehive of activity that is the Heavenly Hair salon. As I mentioned above, Rosemary has a clear, authentic, and compelling voice; she's devastatingly honest about herself yet remains guardedly hopeful. In short, she's a fantastic character. Her small triumphs — including standing in front of Kyle in a bathing suit — are so well earned that I kept rooting her on and on. I was also so pleased that Kyle isn't one of those completely perfect, completely false love interests that tend to populate teen novels. He's definitely enough of a jock goofball to seem like a real high school boy.
If you're looking for a book that will make you laugh as well as put a lump in your throat, this might be the story for you. I'd gladly recommend "Artichoke's Heart" to girls in middle school and up. I hope you like it as much as I did!
FROM A KINNELON LIBRARY TEEN REVIEWER:
I liked this book because it is fun to read and keeps you wanting to read more.