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I’m not the biggest fan of “fat girl” books. The ones I’ve read have invariably contained unbearable heroines whose whining made me, the sympathetic reader type, want to kill myself, that it’s no wonder they aren’t parameters of beauty at their school or community. Or, they’re overly sappy with the heroine ending up skinny and it turns out skinniness is, like, a genie in a lamp and whatever you ask for, you shall receive—a boyfriend, popularity, beauty...
Stopping there in case you only get three wishes.
Yeah, not so much my style. I’m not going to bore anyone with my take on weight-loss and body image and all of that, but let me just say I hate when it’s depicted as gratuitous.
So now let me introduce you to your new best friend:
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.Artichoke’s Heart biggest quality, methinks, is its ability to reach a more extended audience than your regular weight-dropping trope. I mean, it certainly accounts for the challenges of trying to change in order to fit in to a superficial society when you’re not perceived as a gorgeous (so much as gorging) girl. But, it offers so much more than just that. Like Becky mentioned, it’s a novel about family as much as it is about weight. Beyond that, what I thought was also great is how Rosemary befriends a skinny girl (Kay-Kay) who’s a bit lost and confused, and in the mutual help for one another, she comes to realize there’s a lot more to being a healthy person than weight.
That last bit is probably one of my favorite aspect of this novel. Rosemary goes through the highs and lows of weight-loss which coming from experience are not fun at all. Along the way, though, she also fights for a positive self-esteem and body image, neither of which come easily. She gets a boyfriend while she’s still on the heavier side of the scale and has to learn how to allow herself to be loved. I haven’t seen these topics dealt with such candor in most books, which made me very, very excited about this one.
Despite the heavy topics, this book was accessible and sometimes even a seemingly light read. The Southern charm throughout probably helps with that. :P Despite requiring suspension of belief here and there, it is a realistic and universal story.
Yeah, this was good, and yeah, it’s recommended. B+
Further: "Bear Claws" - a guest blog by Suzanne Supplee on the importance of positive body image and self-esteem.
This was reviewed as a part of Girl Week. Girl Week is a week-long event here on the blog celebrating strong YA heroines and feminism. Find out more about it here.