Artichoke's Heart by Suzanne Supplee (review copy) - Blubber meets Steel Magnolias in this funny and honest story about body image and family.
Rosemary Goode is smart and funny and loyal and the best eyebrow waxer in Spring Hill, Tennessee. But only one thing seems to matter to anyone, including Rosemary: her weight. And when your mom runs the most successful (and gossipy) beauty shop in town, it can be hard to keep a low profile. Rosemary resolves to lose the weight, but her journey turns out to be about everything but the scale. Her life-changing, waist-shrinking year is captured with brutal honesty and humor, topped with an extralarge helping of Southern charm. A truly uncommon novel about an increasingly common problem. From Amazon US
This was such a great story! Oh, I loved it on so many levels! Just so sweet and uplifting! Such an amazing story!
Reading the blurb, you would think that Artichoke's Heart is just about Rosie losing weight, and while that is what it's about, it's about so much more too! There are so many layers to this novel! It's also about friendship, romance, family, community, expectations... I could go on! Each of the layers does link to Rosie's weight issues in some way, but they also stand on their own. Will Rosie's unlikely friendship with a popular girl end up turning sour? Is there any chance the new jock could ever look at her? Will her aunt ever get off her back and stop being so insulting? Will her mother allow someone to help her take on the world? Will her mother's clients stop looking at her in that way? Will she end up making decisions for the right reasons, rather than because of other people? A lot goes on in this novel, but it's never chaotic. It all adds to the story, it all effects the main plot, and you're invested in finding out the answers to all the questions.
I loved how Rosie's attitude changed as the book progressed. I can't really go into this without spoiling the book, but there's a number of times where Rosie would realise something just doesn't matter, or she'd see things a different way, or someone would say something to her that opened her eyes. In some of these instances, even my attitude was changed. There is nothing more fantastic than reading a novel and having it change your perspective for the better and make you view yourself differently. This has happened a number of times for me over the course of Body Image and Self-Perception Month and I just love it! Even though I can't relate to Rosie's weight issues, I can relate to her general insecurities, and it's just wonderful to have been "helped" by Rosie's story.
I also loved the language! This story is set in the south, and being from the UK, at first the language was a bit odd to read Rosie refering to her mum as Mother all the way through the book, calling a woman she was close to Miss Bertha rather than just Bertha, and the colloquial spellings for the southern twang. However, the more I read, the more I loved it! I do love a southern accent, and it just ended up sounding really cute in my head.
There is so much I could say about this book, I could gush on forever, but I think a lot of it would be better discovered in your own reading - I really don't want to spoil this fantastic book for you! I do absolutely love it, and I will be reading more novels by Suzanne Supplee in future. You definitely need to pick this book up.
I'm going to leave you with one quote from the book that has stuck with me, "Well... when you look at a person's eyes or her smile, you can't tell how much she weighs..." (p253)
Thank you to Suzanne for sending me a review copy.
Published: 14th May 2009 (reprint edition)
Buy on Amazon UK
Buy on Amazon US
Suzanne Supplee's website