Suzanne Supplee



Artichoke's Heart

Dutton / Penguin, 2008

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Artichoke’s Heart

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. 

Rosemary's only boyfriends are the "secret lovers" stashed under her bed: Mr. Hershey, Mr. Reeses, and Mr. M&M. Worse, Christmas brought nothing but unwanted presents: a treadmill from Mother and two tickets to the Healing the Fat Girl Within conference from nosy Aunt Mary. And when your mom runs the most successful (and gossipy) beauty shop in town, it can be hard to keep a low profile … especially when the scale just hit an all-time high.

Rosemary resolves to lose the weight, but her journey turns out to be about everything but fat. A life-changing, waist-shrinking year is captured with honesty and humor—topped with an extra-large helping of Southern charm—in this enchanting debut by Suzanne Supplee.


Cursed with the name "the Artichoke" after wearing an ill-chosen green jacket to school way back in sixth grade, Rosemary continues to cope with the cool kids' disdain by making food her friend. It's a treacherous ally, though, and when she tops 200 pounds, she decides to make radical changes and begins to lose some serious weight. Then, Rosemary discovers that an A-list girl wants to befriend her, the boy she adores returns her feelings, and (most incredible of all) her mother has cancer. Rosemary's wry first person narration deftly portrays characters in her single-parent family, her high school, her mother's beauty salon, and her Tennessee town. Jolted by fears of losing her mother, Rosemary begins to look beyond her previous preoccupations to see other people's vulnerabilities as well as their more evident flaws. In her first novel, Supplee brings a cast of original characters to life in this convincing and consistently entertaining narrative.

School Library Journal
Rosemary Goode doesn’t have a carefree life; being an overweight binge eater makes her self-conscious around other teens, and her Aunt Mary’s constant criticizing doesn’t help matters. Rosemary works at her mother’s salon, where she sees the beautiful and popular girls getting primped for dances. Her single mother tries to help her, buying a treadmill (on which Rosemary hangs clothes) and arranging for therapy sessions. Rosemary’s friendship with a fitness-obsessed, friendly new girl improves her outlook on exercise, and a budding relationship with Kyle, a popular athlete at school, confuses and exhilarates her. Her mother’s cancer diagnosis shocks and unnerves her, but the teen and her mom deal with the situation with realism and honesty. Rosemary is a funny, sharp, and appealing narrator; Supplee has good insight into high school life, especially cliques, and teenage body issues. Cancer and obesity are handled with humor, care, and sensitivity. Southern euphemisms and speech are sprinkled throughout the novel, which takes place in a small town in Tennessee, but not to excess. This has the breezy fun of recent YA chick lit, but with an uncommon heroine dealing with serious issues. (Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA)

Carolyn Mackler
Author of The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, a Michael L. Printz Honor Book: “Artichoke's Heart is delicious! Suzanne Supplee has written a brave, sensitive story that will inspire girls of all sizes.”

5Q 4P J S

Rosemary Goode has a lot to offer, but most people, even Rosie herself, cannot see beyond the extra weight she carries around. Under constant pressure from her mother and aunt to lose weight and relentlessly scorned by the school's popular and pretty girls, Rosie feels like an outcast in her own life. But when Rosie starts to make choices about how she wants to live her life, instead of watching it pass by wishing she was someone else, surprising things begin to happen: she finds the courage to respond to overtures of friendship from her peers, and she learns that standing up for herself with her family not only improves her self-respect, but also teaches family members to respect her.

Supplee handles a delicate issue with compassion and dexterity. Rosemary's transformation, from someone whose obsession with her weight and unhappiness leads to further self-destructive behavior to someone who is gradually learning to love and care for herself, feels authentic. There are no easy answers in this book, although Rosie is aided by therapy sessions and her mother's health concerns provide motivation for the two to begin resolving some of their longstanding issues. The book's strength is that its messages of physical and mental health and the possibility of change are offered, not with the grim drudgery of a strict diet, but as a sweet confection of southern charm and gentle humor. (Catherine Gilmore-Clough)

Border's Books Original Voices
Suzanne Supplee's Artichoke's Heart takes on body image and teenage girls with an insight we haven't seen since Judy Blume's Blubber. Young Rosemary Goode is a big girl with a big heart, and a mother who owns the town beauty salon. When she resolves to lose weight, her personal struggle becomes the talk of the town.

Kirkus Reviews
The overt story line in this touching novel is obese-girl-loses-weight, though it's really a story about developing self-esteem, connecting with family and friends and finding love. When the story opens, fat and friendless Rosemary finds herself an outcast at her high school and the recipient of well-meaning but insensitive and irritating advice at home. A strict diet-and-exercise regimen combines with new social opportunities and psychological support to cause Rosemary to grow emotionally as she contracts physically. Although parts of the story strain credibility—how many high-school athletes tenderly pursue obese girls, for example?—Supplee makes the reader care right up to the heartwarming finish. More problematic is this burning question: Could Rosemary succeed socially if she weren't dropping pounds? The answer here—which seems to be saying what matters is the heart while simultaneously saying what matters is the weight—is ambiguous on this point. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Y.A. New York
If you’ve ever been even a little, teensy bit overweight, you’ll appreciate the story of Rosemary Goode, a 15-year-old girl who is five feet, four inches tall, and weighs 203 pounds at her peak.

Suzanne Supplee’s new book about a young woman struggling with (a) weight loss, and (b) learning to love herself in spite of her size, is delicious. It’s a feast for the soul. I read the whole thing in one gluttonous sitting.

Okay, enough already with the bad metaphors. The book is freakin’ good. It’s moving, and sad, and it touches the part inside all of us that doubts whether we’re enough, or too much, whether we can be loved, whether we deserve to be loved. It touches the angry part inside of us that wants to be loved in spite of our faults. It touches the guilty place where we feel selfish and thoughtless. And as if all that drama isn’t enough, there’s a nice bit of romance to make us ladies (and gentlemen) swoon.

I have to admit that when I picked this up at Barnes and Noble, I didn’t have the foggiest idea what it was about. I didn’t need to. With a cover like that, you know it’s going to be yummy. But I’m so glad that Suzanne went there, and talked about what it’s like to be the “big girl” in high school. She writes about compulsive overeating and the whys and wherefores of that particular behavior; she writes about the extra scrutiny we all give to what overweight girls eat; she writes about unhealthy crash diets and … well, you get the idea.

Look, even if you’ve never weighed more than 110 pounds, and you’ve always been a natural size zero, this novel will make you more aware of how the other side lives. And it’ll make you think before you make that fat joke.

It sounds like an after-school special, the way I describe it, but really Suzanne’s book is just heartfelt and real. Please will you go read it? Consider it a personal favor to me. And when you’re done, come back and tell me what you think, okay?

Rosemary Goode grapples with her weight through sarcastic wit, Pounds-Away diet drinks, and constant haranguing from her mother, Aunt Mary, and the spiteful Bluebirds clique in this tale set in Spring Hill, Tennessee. Her mother purchases a $700 treadmill for her, and her aunt delivers a ticket to a Healing the Fat Girl Within conference. Neither one motivates Rosemary to stop overeating. They only make her resent her family. The only gift she treasures is a collection of Emily Dickinson poems. Through Supplee's Southern style of humor, lyrical language, and gifted storytelling, readers witness the day-to-day problems that Rosemary faces with her obesity. Misty, the head honcho of the Bluebirds, bestows the menacing moniker Artichoke to Rosemary and teases her during every opportunity that she has an audience. Think Mean Girls reloaded. The heart of this story is the strained relationship between Rosemary and her mother. When her mother is diagnosed with cancer, Rosemary must make amends before it's too late. Readers will also enjoy Supplee's descript rendering of beauty shop culture. (Anjeanette C. Alexander-Smith)

Baltimore’s Child
Poignant, hilarious, and insightful, this debut novel from a Baltimore area author will charm readers. Small town Southern lives—particularly teens—are depicted with love and clarity as Rosemary decides she’s going to lose weight her way and struggles with body image, nasty cliques, her mother’s cancer, self-esteem, and her first boyfriend. A wonderful read.
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