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Hattie’s mom has died, leaving Hattie alone with her gruff, grieving father. After Hattie chops off her braids in a fit of rage, Hattie’s Pa buys her some boy clothes, introduces her as Harley, and trains her to help him as a river man. While she misses her Ma, Hattie begins to find some joy in her strange new life as a river rafting”boy.” When she and her Pa take a dangerous journey down river, Hattie begins to realize that there’s more behind her Pa’s silence than she first thought. Hattie is a strong heroine who will appeal to middle grade girls who love Laura Ingalls and are ready for a more challenging character.

It’s been a long time since I’ve read some good high school fiction. Artichoke’s Heart was just what I needed. Rosemary Goode is just trying to survive high school. She tries not to get noticed, and comforts herself with food. When one of her mom’s beauty shop clients draws attention to Rosemary’s growing weight, Rosemary knows she needs to make a change, and for the first time in her life, she wants to make a change too.

Artichoke’s Heart has everything–underdog heroine to cheer for, perky cheerleaders to hate, cute “boy next door,” a little drama, a little romance, and a plot that makes you believe that if you had to do high school all over again, just maybe, it could be better.