A few years ago I picked up Suzanne Supplee's novel Artichoke's Heart, which caught my eye because the unique title seemed at odds with the box of chocolates on the cover. But the more I read this story, about an overweight girl named Rosemary who gets diet books, a treadmill, and tickets to a conference called "Healing the Fat Girl Within" for Christmas, the more I was hooked.
Rosemary is a great narrator. She's funny and sarcastic and angry and smart all at the same time. Yes, she wants to lose weight and she KNOWS that she needs to lose weight, but she wants to do it on her own terms. Meanwhile she sits around the house wearing sweatpants because she's outgrown everything else, and tries to figure out what to do next. This is a story about a girl who wants to be happy and healthy, who wants to have friends and even a boyfriend, and who knows that in order to get all of those things she'll need to make some difficult changes. You'll root for Rosemary to start changing her life from the inside out, and to find the happiness that she really deserves. You'll also find yourself sweating and struggling along with her, cursing her setbacks and cheering her triumphs along the way.
Now in her latest novel, Somebody Everybody Listens To, Supplee introduces us to another girl who will tug at your heartstrings. Retta Lee Jones has a truly amazing voice, and her dream is to leave her small town and go to Nashville to begin her music career. But she, like Rosemary, has many obstacles in her way. She has to figure out how she's going to get to Nashville, how she's going to find a place to live, and how she's going to find a place to sing so that she can be discovered. And she has to figure out how to do all of that with $514.76, which is all the money she has in the world.
Retta spends a lot of time thinking about her idols, like Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, and Taylor Swift. She also spends a lot of time thinking about her luck, and how so much of her luck turns bad while she is trying to realize her dream. As money, a place to live, and happiness fall further and further out of reach, Retta has to hope that her voice will be strong enough to carry her through these tough times so that she will finally find light at the end of the tunnel. Even if you're not a fan of country music, Retta's need to realize her dream will strike a chord in your heart.