Jo's Reviews > Artichoke Hearts

Artichoke Hearts by Sita Brahmachari
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Jun 16, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: hometown-glories-uk, ya, good-grief, you-got-a-friend-in-me, e, hometown-ya
Read from June 23 to 27, 2011

Initial Final Page Thoughts.
Cute as a button.And I love buttons.

High Point.
A younger protagonist. Mira is only twelve and at first I thought it was going to be really difficult to relate to her, but she was such a glorious narrator…. But I’ll gush later on. Family! Hometown glory! First crushes. Best friends. Grief and morality. Learning. Writing. Diversity. Metaphors. Amazing teachers (I would stand on a chair for Pat Print). Cute siblings. Grandmas!

Low Points.
“The main thing about me is whenever I go to say something in class I blush up bright red so that before I’ve even opened my mouth, everyone knows how embarrassed I am, and after that I just clam up and lose the will to live.”

Seriously, it’s like Ms Brahmachari took that from my Year 7 memories- braces, bobs and over-sized rucksacks - and published it. It was so easy to relate to Mira and even though it was great writing… it did make me uneasy to remember how much of a loser I am. Um… was. How much of a loser I was.
I also would have liked to have Mira’s Indian and Jewish heritage explored a bit more. It would have been fascinating to really understand how this issue of multi-culturalism affected her day-to-day life. I respected how the book didn’t choose to focus completely on ethnicity because this book is all about dealing with grief and growing up, no matter what race you are.
But I would still have liked to find out more about it… because I’m nosey.

Heroine
I absolutely adored Mira. In real life she was so shy and bumbling and it was so endearing that my heart nearly broke every time she tried to say something in class but couldn’t find the words and/or confidence. BUT…. When she was writing her diary she was passionate. She was confident. She was funny. She was so sweet when it came to her crush on Jide (but more on that scamp later.) She was intelligent. She was full of sympathy. She wanted to understand what was happening to her grandma and she wasn’t afraid to ask questions that didn’t have simple actions.
So imagine my delight when the two sides of Mira merged into one and she remained humble and still a little shy but capable of standing up for herself and finding her own voice.
This was a true bildungsroman (Been looking for a chance to get that in one of these reviews sooner or later) and the characterisation of Mira was so perfect and honest and I loved that Brahmachari didn’t shy away from all the gory bits of a girl growing up (I’ll let you use your imagination.)


Love Interest.
Oh Jide. You little flirt. You are only twelve years old but I know you are going to break a few hearts when you grow up. Hopefully not Mira’s though…. Or else.
I liked to imagine that Jide is the mysterious loner boy in all these YA books only five years earlier. (Jide won’t become one of them though… I have faith he’ll see the light and remain awesome) . He’s a cheeky scamp who hides his intelligence and goofs around in class because it’s, like, totally lame to be clever in school, right?
But he has a sense of vulnerability about him, especially when you learn more about him and his history.
AND he goes to after-school writing classes and treats Mira with respect. YES.
These broody, mysterious loners have a lot to learn from Jide Jackson.


Nana.
I feel like Nana Josie needs a subtitle of her own, seeing as the book wouldn’t exist without her and she is that awesome. Nana is the coolest grandma ever.. well, except from mine. She is a hippy that never got over it. She wears vintage clothes. She’s spiritual. She’s sassy. She’s a flirt. She’s independent. She’s a twitcher. She doesn’t let the fact that she has cancer slow her down in the slightest. She is such an advocate for people to shake off their inhibitions, discover that their voice does need to be heard and to live life to the fullest.
And if that isn’t a message we should be teaching twelve year old girls, I don’t know what is.
Bravo Nana Josie!

Theme Tune.
L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N- Noah and the Whale.

I was really struggling to find a song for this one… and I’m still not a hundred per cent I’ve made the right choice. (There was part of me that wanted to choose a poem instead because I was feeling CRAZY.)
But I love this song and if you ignore the verses, this song really conveys the message that Nana Josie has been trying to teach Mira at throughout the book.

Angst Scale.
8/10. This book doesn’t tread lightly around the inevitability of death and a lot of the passages are quite heavy going. But I think even though I think it’s important to not scare the living crap out of kids about things like this, it is of equal importance to not wrap them in cotton wool and dumb things down so they are condescending. For a book with such a young protagonist and a target audience that is much younger than the YA books I normally read, this book deals with death with a unique maturity and sensitivity that other books seriously lack. Really well-done.
There are so many other little side stories with the secondary characters that, even though subtle, are so heart-wrenching. But I’ll let you find out them yourselves.

Recommended For.
People who are on the ‘Y’ side of ‘YA’…but also people who don’t mind reading books with a younger protagonist. People who were always too shy to speak up in class. People who remember what first crushes were all about. People who wish more teachers set up writing-classes to get kids excited about literature. People who like books that deal with death and grief with maturity. People who have kick ass, fearless grandmas. People who like diversity. People who can draw. People who enjoy it when vegetables are used to convey a metaphor.
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Reading Progress

06/26/2011
17.0% "That could actually be the most awful 12th birthday in existence!"
06/27/2011
31.0% "There's something about the word 'snog' that always makes me giggle. I honestly don't know anyone who has ever said it, without a trace of irony, in real life!"

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Sonya (new) - added it

Sonya I guess I can relate to Mira easily as well. And now, I still blush when I have to speak in front of the public and get the attention from all the people sometimes... sh... don't tell anyone...
I'll hunt down a copy. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. ;-)


message 2: by Jo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jo No worries, Sonia! And yeah, I know what you mean.
I don't mix very well with public speaking either!
I hope you get to read it soon!


message 3: by Sonya (new) - added it

Sonya But I still sign up for the public speaking... I didn't know what I was thinking. Nevertheless, thanks to the practises, I do have improvement.
I will. I hope Jasmine Skies is as great as this. ;-)


Kyra (Blog of a Bookaholic) Brilliant review! :) I am currently reading Artichoke Hearts and I'm really enjoying it! :) if you want to look at some of my reviews you can look at my blog: www.blogofabookaholic.blogspot.com :) thanks and happy reading! :)


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