Thursday, July 24, 2008

Artichoke's Heart

I love this cover! That's probably the chocolate lover in me talking, not the book lover, but so what? A good cover can mean all the difference in the world when it comes to getting someone to check out (or buy) a book. Plot description alone might not have sold me on this one, but I am glad the cover did because I liked Artichoke's Heart.

This is the story of sixteen-year-old Rosemary Goode, young, sharp-tongued, friendless, and eternally overweight. Dubbed "the Artichoke" back in fifth grade (due to a green, puffy jacket she wore one day), Rosemary has never been happy with her weight but never able to change her eating habits either. This particularly dismal Christmas, Rosemary's well-meaning but overbearing aunt gives her tickets to Healing the Fat Girl Within while her mother gives her a treadmill. Rosemary is not amused. She wishes everyone would just stop carping on her weight. She's a straight A student, she helps at her single mom's Tennesse hair salon, and she never gets in trouble. Isn't this enough?

After an overweight client of her mother's suffers a heart attack, Rosemary finally begins to look at losing weight seriously. She secretly turns to Pounds Away, a diet shake that leave her hungrier than ever. Somehow, though, she slowly begins to shed the pounds. At the same time, a boy shows interest in her for the first time---or is he only playing with her feelings?---and a girl suddenly shunned from the popular crowd makes an overture at friendship.

This book was filled with Southern humor. I love the Tennessee setting. Subplots involving Rosemary's mother's diagnosis with a serious illness and the tense relationship between Rosemary and her aunt helped to make this book feel complete. I could have done without the teenage friend's alcohol abuse plot line and I found the potential boyfriend a smidgen too good to be true (his taste in music is the least convincing plot point of all but it wasn't so important, really.) I would have liked the author to elaborate on the single mother plot. Mostly though, I liked Rosemary, a flawed (though not as flawed as she thinks) girl who begins to put her biggest insecurity to rest.

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