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Suzanne Supplee

author and educator

Suzanne Supplee author educator


Artichoke's Heart

Dut­ton / Pen­guin, 2008

Buy the Book 

nar­rat­ed by Eve Bianco

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.” (Book­list)

“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.” (School Library Jour­nal, Jen­nifer Schultz, Fauquier Coun­ty Pub­lic Library, War­ren­ton, VA)

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

“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, VOYA, 5Q 4P J S)

“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.” (Bor­ders Books Orig­i­nal Voices)

“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.” (Kirkus Reviews)

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?” (YA New York)

“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.” (ALAN, Anjeanette C. Alexander-Smith)

“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.” (Bal­ti­more’s Child)