Artichoke’s Heart – book review

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Artichoke’s Heart
by Suzanne Supplee
Realistic Fiction
* * * * Stars

Rosemary Goode has a love-hate relationship with food – she loves to eat it, but she hates what it’s doing to her. Her weight has been steadily climbing and she recently hit her all time high – 203lbs. Her mom and aunt are always on her case about taking the pounds off, and the Bluebirds (the popular girl clique in school) constantly make fun of her. Rosie decides to do something about it after one of her mother’s clients (mom owns a beauty salon) brings her cookies and she feels everyone in the shop staring at her, disapproving and expecting her to wolf them down. Losing the weight and distracting herself from her cravings and coping mechanisms is harder than anything she’s ever done before. Rosie starts seeing a therapist (who is studying the short term effects of counseling on weight loss), and finds that just talking to someone about all of the feelings she’s been keeping bottled up inside of her is helpful. She also puts herself on a liquid diet (drinks Pounds Away shakes), starts running on the treadmill her mom bought her for Christmas, makes a new friend (Kay-Kay) who loves exercise even more than Rosie likes to eat, and gets a boyfriend who seems to like her no matter what size she is. It’s an uphill battle, but gradually Rosie’s self-esteem begins to improve, she feels better, and she’s able to articulate and deal with her problems in new ways. Her journey is particularly difficult because her mom is diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease (cancer of the lymph system) and becomes quite ill.

This was an excellent fat-girl transformation story that honestly and realistically describes how difficult it is to lose weight, and the corresponding fears and hopes about what the weight loss will mean. In Rosie’s case, she didn’t do it the healthiest of ways, but that was realistic, too. She also had set-backs and days when she was hard-pressed not to fall back into her old habits. Becoming thinner wasn’t the biggest or most important change Rosie made, though – it was her choice to take control of her life and to ask for the things she wanted (and accept what people offered her). And while she struggled with self and body image, she was finally able to see herself as a beautiful and strong person – someone worth loving. That’s probably the most important thing. Rosie and her family are finally talking honestly by the end of this story, and Rosie’s well on her way to being a much happier person. While other stories over-glorify the character’s weight loss, this one helped to put it in its proper place. The cover, however, is enough to make anyone drool (lots of little chocolates in pink wrappers) and will not promote weight loss or healthy eating!

Reviewed by YA Librarian

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