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Artichoke Hearts

(Mira Levenson #1)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  1,144 ratings  ·  134 reviews
Twelve-year-old Mira comes from a chaotic, artistic and outspoken family where it’s not always easy to be heard. As her beloved Nana Josie's health declines, Mira begins to discover the secrets of those around her, and also starts to keep some of her own. She is drawn to mysterious Jidé, a boy who is clearly hiding a troubled past and has grown hardened layers - like those ...more
Paperback, 321 pages
Published August 22nd 2011 by MacMillan Children's Books (first published May 3rd 2011)
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3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,144 ratings  ·  134 reviews

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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 when
Stephanie (Stepping out of the Page)
Artichoke Hearts is a book that I had been meaning to get around to reading since I heard about it (which was quite a long time ago!). To be honest, at first look I wasn't expecting all that much - the cover seemed a little 'young' and the blurb just sounded average. However, once I saw the amount of positive attention that the book was receiving, I really wanted to check it out. This book was still much better than expected!

This story is not only about our protagonist, 12 year old Mira, but als
Mavis Ros
Mar 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: middle-school

"Everything's spinning out of control..."

We follow the life of Mira Levenson as she tries to avoid spreading a simple secret about her mysterious love interest and the rest of her problems that every single woman had encountered throughout the whole book.

Lyndsey O'Halloran
Jan 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
The story is told from 12 year old Mira’s POV. Before starting to read this one, I was a little unsure about what I was going to think seeing as the main character is younger than most of the characters that I prefer to read about. Artichoke Hearts was a little slow to get started and it took me a couple of chapters until I was really immersed in the story and then, I didn’t want to put it down.

Mira was a lovely character and I found myself liking her so much more than I thought I would. The ma
Artichoke Hearts centres around the life of 12-year-old Mira Levenson as she reaches the point in her young adult life where she suddenly has to face up to a lot of changes - from her family, her love life and even her own body. Mira narrates her own dealings with facing up to the loss of her dying grandmother, her first period, her first crush and much more.

I will start off by saying I loved the audiobook for this. The narrator was Tania Rodrigues and she did such a great job with each charact
Jul 22, 2011 rated it liked it
I didn't really like this book; not that it wasn't well-written or anything, it's just...well, let me put it this way: I received it in December, read halfway through, got bored, put it down and have only just finished it. I think it was mainly because I didn't like Mira all that much (at least at first) and I get the feeling that had I read it when I was the same age as Mira it would be one of my favourite, most touching books. But I didn't and it wasn't, although I would strongly recommend it ...more
L.H. Johnson
Mar 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful, elegant tribute to love, difference and life; Artichoke Hearts is something really rather special. The debut novel of Sita Brahmachari, narrated by young Mira Levenson, is one of those quietly stunning books that sidles into your heart and won't leave easily.

Told in a first person narrative, we join Mira just as she's about to start attending Literature Club. If that weren't enough to deal with, things are a bit awkward with her best friend, she's getting bullied at school, she's ab
Laura Hollywood
Sep 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book won the Waterstone’s Children’s book prize for 2011, and in my opinion it was well deserved. This book is about two wonderful love stories, that of Mira Levenson and her grandmother Josie (very much the heart and strength of this book), and a boy-girl romance. Mira is from a mixed ethic background her father is English and her mother is Indian, and her beloved grandmother Josie is dying of cancer.

Mira’s grandmother is a colourful and well travelled artist, and in preparation for her d
Aug 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
This is the first novel by this author. The book deals with many issues: death, love, friendship, loyalty, bullying and family life.

The book lacked a real storyline and I found myself losing interest at times. I felt that the author introduced many issues (see above) and in doing this did not develop the story.

However it was a brave attempt to deal with many sensitive issues and I think many teenagers will enjoy the book. I particularly liked the Grandmother who has cancer and is dying as I lik
Beatrice Rivers
Jan 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I liked this book a lot. I think that it was very genuine in expressing the troubles of Mira's family as her Nana Josie fights her illness.

I believe that this book shows that everyone has their secrets and that some of those secrets have been bottled up inside of them for as long as they remember. Jidé is my absolute favourite character, along with Laila, which is such a sweet name.

The artichoke heart that Nana Josie gives Mira is the central concept of the book. It fits into everyone's lives. I
Zuzana Malá
Tak nějak jsem přemýšlela, proč mě kniha neoslnila na plný počet hvězd.
1. zajímavý příběh
2. dobře se četla
3. celkem dobré myšlenky..

Já jsem totiž na ni asi stará! :D Vypravěčce je o 11 let méně než mě, tak asi proto. Chvílema jsem si připadala, že nechápu, co řeší :D Ale celkově to nebylo zlé, jen sem tam moc zdlouhavé s pasážemi o ničem :/
Vikki VanSickle
Sep 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
Those of you who have read my book Words That Start With B and its follow up, Love is a Four-Letter Word will understand why I love Artichoke Hearts. Narrator Mira Levenson could be my narrator Clarissa Louise Delaney’s English cousin. Both of them are wry, funny, grown up in some ways, and very young in others. Exactly what I want in my contemporary middle grade fiction.

Mira Levenson starts a journal after signing up for a writing class with the appropriately named Miss Print. Her best friend M
Juanita Molina
Mar 25, 2014 rated it did not like it
argh where do i start? there are so many 'bads' in this book i could name lots but I'm going to keep this short

1. First of all it felt like the WHOLE book was about Mira Levenson's grandma, Nana Josie dying (actually it was) even though the book's blurb states that mira has other people in her life our than her grandma (omg enough about the old lady already) like the mysterious Jidé Jackson. But you see when Jidé and Mira talk and all ITs jUSt CHEESY and BORING its almost like a fake love conver
Beth Bonini
Apr 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
There were so many things that I liked about this book . . . where to start?

This is a classic "coming of age" book, in which various rites-of-passage are experienced by Mira, the 12 year old protagonist. In a short and intense space of time she gets her first period, has her first real crush on a boy, loses a beloved grandparent and finds her true voice.
First of all, the grandmother (whose death of cancer is one of the major plot-points) is one of most endearing, most colourful characters in con
Oct 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya
I was super excited to read this book, mainly because the author (being a British born Indian) stood out from the usual authors that reside on my book shelf.
Artichoke Hearts was a humorous read and although it pulled on my heart strings in places, the laughs that surround the book stop it from being a depressive granny's dying read. Mira has an eccentric Nana, which was lovely to read since I do have a special space in my heart for the elderly and I really delighted in the fact that Sita focused
Dec 02, 2013 rated it it was ok
Just couldn't get into this. The young love had me rolling my eyes. The attempts to go deep so frequently felt like listening to a speech over and over. The writing was frustrating and several times slipped into basically third person even though it was written in first present (I'm just saying, I don't think a 12 year old girl could read so deeply into adults' unspoken thoughts). The framework of the book being a diary felt unnecessary to me and having the characters in a writing class seemed l ...more
Jan 01, 2015 rated it liked it
I was thinking before I got to the sad part (don't want to spoilt it for anyone) that I give this book 2.5 stars but after, it made me cry and a book that does that deserves more stars. However, I still feel that 3 stars is enough because although the book is great and the characters are well thought out, it doesn't stand out to me as one of the best books I've read, and it was only really moving in a few parts. Mira and Jide's relationship was adorable, though at times unrealistic but I couldn' ...more
Definitely a middle school book about a half Indian-half Jewish 12-year-old girl growing up in England with her dying free-spirited grandmother. Lots of coming-of-age issues: first love, puberty, family issues. Mira is in a writing group with a supportive teacher. There we meet a small group of equally diverse characters include Jide, an orphan whose parents were killed in the Rwandan genocide.
I liked this book although I thought it moved slowly. I appreciated the diverse stories of Mira's frie
Jul 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Rating: 3 (+--)
Book Warnings: There's a death in it, and a bit of 'universe' sort of thing

I think I am the wrong age to read this book. Because I think that if I had read it when I was about the age of the protagonist I would've enjoyed it a lot more, and we do need books aimed at that age group (esp ones that deal with death).
Anyway, it was a sweet story and the relationship between her and her grandmother was very nice (and I liked seeing a sympathetic representation of a hospice in a kids st
Mar 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nejprve jsem si myslela, že to bude obyčejná knížka o dvanáctileté holce, která řeší takové ty typické problémy dospívajících, které sice nechci zlehčovat, ale číst o nich mě až tolik nebere. Jenomže pak mě to nějak začalo bavit, najednou to mělo myšlenku a zanechalo to ve mně pár otisků, což by knížka měla udělat. Není to tak oddechové, jak by mělo být, ale čte se to dobře. Trochu smutně. :)
Kirsty Noah-whitlock
Aug 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Another book recommended by a Bookclub member. heard of it before but reserved in ln library after being told it was a best read for someone. This book is the authors first and I hope she continues to write. Really good book that I struggled to put down and will definitely pick up any more that gets written by her xx
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was such a warm and lovable story about a young girl beginning to figure out her place in the world and the kind of person she wants to be. I loved Mira – she’s shy, anxious and a deep thinker who watches the world carefully. Over the course of the book her courage and confidence grows, as does her understanding of her place in the world. I loved her positive but complex relationship with her art. Nana Josie was a wonderful, warm character and I loved her closeness with Mira. I also really ...more
Mar 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Winner of Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize 2011, Artichoke Hearts is a very impressive debut novel. It’s a coming of age novel with an array of big themes including first love, bereavement, family relationships, friendship and bullying.

Our narrator, twelve year old Mira Levenson, takes us through a month in her life via a diary project for her creative writing class at school – a month in which she has her first period, her first love in the shape of Jide Jackson, her first bereavement as her
Apr 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: won
Full review up on the blog:

Told from 12 year old Mira's point of view, Artichoke Hearts is a coming of age story focusing on a young girl's thoughts and feelings as she waits for her grandmother to die.

I don't usually read books like this one. I was a little apprehensive when I saw that the main character is so much younger than me. Not that I don't read books with teens as the protagonists, it is in most YA, but Mira is young even for most YA. I was unsu
Mar 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
This isn't my usual sort of read, I do like the odd bit of contemporary fiction but wasn't too sure about this. I actually listened to it on audio book and really only picked it up because it was the only thing on the shelf at the time that wasn't Thomas the Tank or Fairies. I always have a book to listen to in the car and I needed a new one so this one ended up being picked and I have to say I was actually pleasantly surprised. I found myself enjoying the story and getting more engrossed the fu ...more
Melissa Frye
Oct 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Some books are just lovely. Even if they make you cry, they are lovely. Mira in the Present Tense is one such book. I picked it up from the library on a whim and am very pleased with my choice.

Brahmachari has created memorable characters and released them into the real world. Mira is a complex twelve-year-old dealing with pressures both common and rare and she does so beautifully. Nana Josie is one of those grandmothers that could easily embarrass her grandchildren, but her eccentricities are s
Apr 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This novel is Sita's debut novel and I after reading it, I am very excited what more she has to offer us! Mira is a 12 year-old girl and in just one month a lot changes. I love the diary format it is in, and the metaphor illustrations she draws. Jide is a boy she has known for a while and starts to fall for him, she starts lying and drifting away from her best friend and most of all - her Nana is dying.

This is so powerfully written I think it is one of my favourite reads. It deals with typical t
There's quite a lot going on in this book, and the author tackles a lot of challenging issues. As she turns twelve, Mira Levenson faces a lot of changes in her life. She starts her period before her best friend Millie, and doesn't tell her. Her free-spirited, artistic Nana Josie is dying of cancer and enlists her help in painting her coffin. She is drawn into her first romance with Jide, an athletic boy with a horrific past in an extracurricular writing group at her school. Although the author o ...more
Ali George
3.5 cause it’s a book of two halves - to start out with I found the writing a bit too ‘first novel’ ish, and felt that Mira spent too much time explaining things your average 12 year old wouldn’t notice. Then on the second half when that set up was out of the way she settles into the flow, develops the stories and characters, and I cried at the end. Would certainly read more by this author and recommend to tween/pre-tween kids, especially any affected by loss.
May 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mg-fiction
Artichoke Hearts (a.k.a. Mira in the Present Tense, in the U.S.) is a really wonderful MG novel about families and grief and love and growing up. I absolutely loved Mira and her quirky, real family, which is loving but not perfect. I loved her relationship with her colorful, opinionated, artistic and occasionally deeply insensitive Nana Josie, who is dying of cancer but determined to "die well" - a process which includes painting her own coffin, with Mira's help.

I loved that even though Mira's
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Sita was born in Derby in 1966, to an Indian doctor from Kolkata and an English nurse from the Lake District. She has a BA in English Literature and an MA in Arts Education. Her many projects and writing commissions have been produced in theatres, universities, schools and community groups throughout Britain and America. ARTICHOKE HEARTS is her first novel for young people. Sita lives and works in ...more

Other books in the series

Mira Levenson (2 books)
  • Jasmine Skies
“Most people, by the time they get old, have grown tough little shells around their hearts. Babies, like little Laila, start off with tender, loving, trusting hearts, but gradually, gradually, they learn to protect themselves and, as the years go by, grow tougher and tougher layers. Look at this! The outside layers of the artichoke are so tough they aren’t even worth eating but they become more and more tender as you come closer to the heart. These tough outer layers stop you feeling so much, so people walk around with hard little hearts that no one can touch. Of course there are some people who don’t have a choice – they just never learn to protect that can be both a blessing and a burden.” 9 likes
“Mira Levenson. Aged twelve. Looks, long dark shiny hair, dark brown eyes (almost black), brown skin. Beautiful. Favorite colour, copper orange, I think. Personality, clever, bright, serious, shy, funny without realizing it, holds back her thoughts, mystery girl, arty. What I've noticed: she's stronger than she thinks she is; she doesn't speak much ay school. What I know: she's got a loud laugh (when she lets it out). Her best friend is Millie Lockhart. She doesn't need Millie as much as she thinks she does. Her grandmother is dying and she loves her. She started talking in Pat Print's class. I know she doesn't know how much I think of her, how much I miss her if she's not around. What I think she thinks about me is that I'm a bit of a joker, but I'm deadly serious.
See you on Friday!
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