My Books

Disclaimer: Book summaries are written by my publisher. I do not say things about myself like "enchanting debut" or "break-out author."

If you'd like to know more about my writing life, check out my author website at suzannesupplee.com



When Irish Guys Are Smiling

For seventeen-year-old Delk Sinclair, studying abroad in Ireland means one thing: escape. Delk is tired of hearing about her friends’ debutante parties, watching her pregnant stepmother redecorate her mother’s house, and having to smile sweetly even though she doesn’t think she’ll ever get over losing her mother. Ireland is Delk’s chance to be happy. With the stunning green landscape as backdrop, Delk revels in all things Irish, from living in a real Irish castle, to celebrating St. Paddy’s Day in Galway, to enjoying Irish music and dance, to studying Yeats and shearing a sheep! So when Delk begins to fall for a very handsome Irishman, she wonders if there’s more to the Emerald Isle than it first seemed. It is fun, to be sure, but will those smiling Irish eyes really be able to heal her broken heart forever?


Artichoke's Heart 

Rosemary Goode is smart and funny and loyal and the best eyebrow waxer in Spring Hill, Tennessee. But only one thing seems to matter to anyone, including Rosemary: her weight. 
Rosemary's only boyfriends are the "secret lovers" stashed under her bed: Mr. Hershey, Mr. Reeses, and Mr. M&M. Worse, Christmas brought nothing but unwanted presents: a treadmill from Mother and two tickets to the Healing the Fat Girl Within conference from nosy Aunt Mary. And when your mom runs the most successful (and gossipy) beauty shop in town, it can be hard to keep a low profile…especially when the scale just hit an all-time high.

Rosemary resolves to lose the weight, but her journey turns out to be about everything but fat. A life-changing, waist-shrinking year is captured with honesty and humor—topped with an extra-large helping of Southern charm—in this enchanting debut by Suzanne Supplee.



Somebody Everybody Listens To

Retta Lee Jones is blessed with a beautiful voice and has big dreams of leaving her tiny Tennessee hometown. With a beaten down car, a pocketful of hard-earned waitressing money, and stars in her eyes, Retta sets out to make it big in Nashville. But the road to success isn't a smooth one in a town filled with dreamers, and Retta begins to have doubts: can she make her mark while staying true to herself? From the break-out author of Artichoke's Heart, this big-hearted novel is a must-read for anyone who has ever chased a dream (or hummed along to Taylor Swift).


Reviews for Artichoke's Heart

Booklist 
Cursed with the name "the Artichoke" after wearing an ill-chosen green jacket to school way back in sixth grade, Rosemary continues to cope with the cool kids' disdain by making food her friend. It's a treacherous ally, though, and when she tops 200 pounds, she decides to make radical changes and begins to lose some serious weight. Then, Rosemary discovers that an A-list girl wants to befriend her, the boy she adores returns her feelings, and (most incredible of all) her mother has cancer. Rosemary's wry first person narration deftly portrays characters in her single-parent family, her high school, her mother's beauty salon, and her Tennessee town. Jolted by fears of losing her mother, Rosemary begins to look beyond her previous preoccupations to see other people's vulnerabilities as well as their more evident flaws. In her first novel, Supplee brings a cast of original characters to life in this convincing and consistently entertaining narrative.

School Library Journal
Rosemary Goode doesn’t have a carefree life; being an overweight binge eater makes her self-conscious around other teens, and her Aunt Mary’s constant criticizing doesn’t help matters. Rosemary works at her mother’s salon, where she sees the beautiful and popular girls getting primped for dances. Her single mother tries to help her, buying a treadmill (on which Rosemary hangs clothes) and arranging for therapy sessions. Rosemary’s friendship with a fitness-obsessed, friendly new girl improves her outlook on exercise, and a budding relationship with Kyle, a popular athlete at school, confuses and exhilarates her. Her mother’s cancer diagnosis shocks and unnerves her, but the teen and her mom deal with the situation with realism and honesty. Rosemary is a funny, sharp, and appealing narrator; Supplee has good insight into high school life, especially cliques, and teenage body issues. Cancer and obesity are handled with humor, care, and sensitivity. Southern euphemisms and speech are sprinkled throughout the novel, which takes place in a small town in Tennessee, but not to excess. This has the breezy fun of recent YA chick lit, but with an uncommon heroine dealing with serious issues.–Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA

Carolyn Mackler
Author of The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, a Michael L. Printz Honor Book
"Artichoke's Heart is delicious! Suzanne Supplee has written a brave, sensitive story that will inspire girls of all sizes."


VOYA
5Q 4P J S

Rosemary Goode has a lot to offer, but most people, even Rosie herself, cannot see beyond the extra weight she carries around. Under constant pressure from her mother and aunt to lose weight and relentlessly scorned by the school's popular and pretty girls, Rosie feels like an outcast in her own life. But when Rosie starts to make choices about how she wants to live her life, instead of watching it pass by wishing she was someone else, surprising things begin to happen: she finds the courage to respond to overtures of friendship from her peers, and she learns that standing up for herself with her family not only improves her self-respect, but also teaches family members to respect her.
Supplee handles a delicate issue with compassion and dexterity. Rosemary's transformation, from someone whose obsession with her weight and unhappiness leads to further self-destructive behavior to someone who is gradually learning to love and care for herself, feels authentic. There are no easy answers in this book, although Rosie is aided by therapy sessions and her mother's health concerns provide motivation for the two to begin resolving some of their longstanding issues. The book's strength is that its messages of physical and mental health and the possibility of change are offered, not with the grim drudgery of a strict diet, but as a sweet confection of southern charm and gentle humor. Catherine Gilmore-Clough

Border's Books Original Voices
Suzanne Supplee's Artichoke's Heart takes on body image and teenage girls with an insight we haven't seen since Judy Blume's Blubber. Young Rosemary Goode is a big girl with a big heart, and a mother who owns the town beauty salon. When she resolves to lose weight, her personal struggle becomes the talk of the town.

Kirkus Reviews
The overt story line in this touching novel is obese-girl-loses-weight, though it's really a story about developing self-esteem, connecting with family and friends and finding love. When the story opens, fat and friendless Rosemary finds herself an outcast at her high school and the recipient of well-meaning but insensitive and irritating advice at home. A strict diet-and-exercise regimen combines with new social opportunities and psychological support to cause Rosemary to grow emotionally as she contracts physically. Although parts of the story strain credibility-how many high-school athletes tenderly pursue obese girls, for example?-Supplee makes the reader care right up to the heartwarming finish. More problematic is this burning question: Could Rosemary succeed socially if she weren't dropping pounds? The answer here-which seems to be saying what matters is the heart while simultaneously saying what matters is the weight-is ambiguous on this point. (Fiction. 12 & up)


Reviews for Somebody Everybody Listens To


Publishers Weekly STARRED REVIEW!
Propelled by her best friend's belief in her musical talent, recent high school grad Retta Lee Jones leaves self-doubt, clingy parents, and her smalltown life behind and heads to Nashville, determined to make her name in country music. Hard knocks (she damages the car she borrowed from her great-aunt right away) and kind strangers (the tow-truck driver becomes an ally) introduce her to her new home, and neither are in short supply. Understanding that genuine talent alone won't open doors for her, Retta lives out of her car, bathes in public sinks, and studies the industry, searching for a way to break in. These concrete challenges prove less daunting than the guilt-inducing pull of home, as her parents' unhappy marriage dissolves without her. Biographical notes about country stars like Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, and Carrie Underwood introduce each chapter and highlight each star's "big break," providing inspiration for both Retta and readers. While a mustread for country music lovers, Supplee's (Artichoke's Heart) latest will appeal to a wide audience, especially those who long to pursue a dream against the odds.

Booklist
After graduating from high school in a small Tennessee town, Retta dreams of making it to Nashville and becoming a country music star. But even with her beautiful voice, how can she get there? And who will listen? How can she leave her parents, who barely speak to each other? Retta does make it to Nashville, though, and she sleeps in her car; works a day job; and finds kindness, friendship, and good luck, as well as violence and cruelty. Country music fans will grab this for the details of the steel guitars, banjos, and fiddles and the legendary landmarks; at the start of each chapter, there is a page-long bio of a famous star, from Dolly Parton to Johnny Cash, that discusses the musicians’ hardscrabble lives and success. Retta’s personal story is filled with classic young-adult conflicts. Should she go back and help Daddy after Mama leaves? The beautiful song she writes about the push and pull of home has a message every teen can relate to: “Just me in the middle, wondering who I should love.“ — Hazel Rochman

Kirkus
"Dolly or Loretta or Tammy or Emmylou . . . my voice is just like Play-Doh: it can take one any shape I want," says recent high-school graduate Retta Lee Jones. Now the country-singer hopeful is ready to leave behind her best friend, a potential boyfriend and her dysfunctional parents to find her own voice in Nashville. She thinks she is prepared for the hard road ahead, until she's faced with hunger, living in her car and a mugging. Constantly doubtful, Retta draws inspiration from previous country stars before making her way to open-mic night at the Mockingbird (which is based on Nashville's legendary Bluebird Cafe) and claims the attention of a local critic. Her hardships and lucky breaks may seem far-fetched until they're compared with the real-life bios that open and frame each chapter. From Retta's cravings for Sundrop soda to the twangy speech of the auto mechanic who rescues her from homelessness, this chick-lit story with a Southern flair features a host of characters from all walks of life. It begs for a playlist.

Bookpage
Retta Lee Jones is an aspiring country singer from Starling, a small Tennessee town. Everyone in Starling knows Retta is talented, but a beautiful voice cannot fix her parents’ marriage or pay the bills. All she clings to is a dream to make it in Nashville.

Following her high school graduation, and despite her mother’s objections, Retta scrapes together her limited savings to spend the summer working in Music City. Some unfortunate circumstances (a parking ticket, a fender-bender, a mugging) force her to sleep in her car, but they also put her in the path of kind-hearted people. She meets a mechanic who offers her a job answering phones in his auto shop to pay for the repairs, and a bookstore clerk befriends her and lends her books about the country music business. When Retta gets a poor-paying job singing at a shabby hotel, the hotel manager’s young son lets her sleep in a vacant room for free. The hotel bartender, a fellow musician, offers her valuable advice: Quit imitating country legends and sing your own music. Before long, her luck changes when she catches the attention of a well-known local columnist. But the path to fame is often paved with potholes, and Retta must decide if becoming a Nashville star is even possible.

As in her previous book, Artichoke’s Heart, Suzanne Supplee peppers Somebody Everybody Listens To with a lush Southern setting, endearing characters and honest first-person narration. Retta is a hard-working soul who just needs a lucky break, and readers will root for her to rise above her humble circumstances. In addition, Supplee precedes each chapter with a brief biography of a country legend, such as Patsy Cline, Shania Twain and Dolly Parton. These entries highlight the difficult road to stardom and complement Retta’s own struggles and successes. After reading that Dolly Parton was one of 12 children or that Shania’s real name is Eileen Edwards, teen readers might be motivated to do their own research and learn more. And although the country bios add a fun touch to the novel, teens do not need to be fans of country music to be fans of Suzanne Supplee.

—Kimberly Garnick Giarratano


Bulletin of the Center For Children's Books
Retta has a big voice and big dreams: as soon as she graduates high school, she's leaving her small town of Starling, Tennessee, for Nashville to pursue her goal of being a singer. Encouraged by her best friend and a boy she's crushing on, she borrows her great-aunt's car, and she's off. Things don't go smoothly, but she manages, through the kindness of a tow-truck driver working out his repentance for a less-than-admirable past, to find a steady job and a place to stay while she sings at an all-but-abandoned motel lounge. There, she meets a crotchety bartender with just the right advice, and she perseveres despite setbacks that ultimately deepen her spirit and resolve. Retta is a thoroughly credible, thoroughly likable character—loyal, hardworking, and utterly ordinary, except for her exceptional talent. She's done her homework on the bios of her favorite country singers, which are included as interstitial factoids between chapters, and which make her own path seem reasonable and realistic. Her reflection on her parents' relationship, which falls apart when she leaves, proceeds along a thoughtful track from a relatively immature blame game to a more complex understanding of the ways in which both she and her father have not attended to what her mother cared about, an insight that is subtly related to the reasons behind her determination to pursue her own dreams. Her narrative voice is as solid as her singing voice is portrayed to be, making her story compulsively readable and ultimately inspiring.—Karen Coats



Somebody Everybody Listens To is a Politics and Prose 2010 “Summer Favorite” in the PG-15 category. www.politics-prose.com/children-and-teens/2010-Summer-Favorites/PG-15

Disclaimer: Book summaries are written by my publisher. I do not say things about myself like "enchanting debut" or "break-out author."

If you'd like to know more about my writing life, check out my author website at suzannesupplee.com

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