Artichoke hearts is a book to make you cry. With laughter as well as sadness. It is Sita’s first book and it is brilliant. Mira is entering her teens and is dealing with the usual growing up problems, boys, best mates and periods. There is also a bit of bullying chucked in. She is dealing with so many changes but on top of that her beloved nana Josie is dying.
Nana Josie is a great character. She is strong, wise, funny and fiesty. Mira and her are really close although sometimes she is a little outspoken for the quiet Mira. She’s an artist with a wide group of friends who used to go on political demonstrations. Josie has a love of nature which she has passed on to her granddaughter.
Mira’s family life is chaotic. Mum and dad are always busy, little brother Krish is a pain and there is baby Laila to add to the mix. There are bullies at school but she does have her best friend Millie. So why has she started to keep secrets from her? She’s discovering boys and is somehow drawn to Jide, a boy who has secrets of his own.
This is a beautiful story. It feels very true to life and except for the fact that it is set in London it could be a family we know. The pace and mood of the characters change so much through the book as they come to terms with more than the fact that Nana Josie is dying. It is an emotional roller coaster ride but a pleasurable one as we get to know Mira better.
The book has just won Waterstones Books childrens fiction award which I think it highly deserves. It’s going on my list of best of 2011. Find a comfortable spot and curl up with this wonderful book and get to know the Levenson family, especially Mira.