Artichoke Hearts by Sita Brahmachari is a teen/YA novel that deals with facing bereavement.
The book is written from the point of view of the protagonist, Mira Levenson, a twelve year old girl whose life is as mixed up as her feelings.
Mira comes from a large, outspoken family, where everything is always a bit of a drama. She loves her family, but finds it difficult to find space within it to articulate her feelings and find herself. She takes solace in drawing and painting, a skill she shares with her beloved Nana Josie, something that brings them closer together.
The awful thing is that Nana Josie is dying, and what will Mira do with herself then?
The book uses Mira’s awakening into becoming a teenager, her first periods, her choppy relationship with the best friend she used to share everything with, but now feels detached from, and her burgeoning relationship with Jide, a boy with problems of his own, as a counterpoint to the last days of her Nana Josie’s life. Mira is growing into her life as Nana Josie leaves it.
Mira’s life becomes a tightrope of emotions as she goes through this time, mourning and coming to terms with losing her grandmother, and feeling the excitement of first love and finding her own place in the world.
Sita Brahmachari has written a thoughtful, elegaic and beautiful book about navigating the path into adulthood. I love the fact that she does not shy away from difficult issues, and writes from the heart about what it feels like to lose a loved one. The novel is terribly sad, but also shot through with the optimism of Mira’s growth and her own life journey just beginning.
This is definitely a book for girls, written from a girl’s perspective and dealing as it does with things like coping with a first period, first boyfriends etc, there is not much here for a boy to latch on to. I would recommend it to girls from the age of twelve upwards, possibly ten if you think they are ready to read about what are some sensitive issues in the life of a growing girl.