THE SUNDAY REVIEW | DIETLAND – SARAI WALKER

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Dietland - Sarai Walker
 

It’s not hard to see why everyone has been talking about Dietland. This is a book that will challenge you. It’ll challenge you to think about your prejudices and pre-conceptions, it’ll make you uncomfortable, and it’ll even make you think about your ideas of wrong and right.

Which makes it sound heavy and serious and intense. It’s not. Well, maybe it’s a little intense, but mostly it’s a great story that will have you flipping pages as fast as you can from start to finish.

The story begins with Plum. Plum is overweight – has been all her life – and feels trapped inside a body that isn’t her true self. She works from home, answering teenagers’ angst-filled emails from the account of the editor of a popular fashion magazine. The only places she regularly visits are the coffee shop her friend runs where she takes her laptop to work, and weight-loss meetings. She’s counting down the days until she can have gastric bypass surgery, lose weight, and begin her “real” life. She even purchases cute outfits in the smaller size she soon hopes to be.

Until one day she notices a girl following her. She’s seen this girl a few times – sitting outside her apartment, watching her across the coffee shop – and she has no idea what the girl wants, or even if she’s real. One day she is summoned into the office of the magazine editor she works for, and she sees the mysterious girl in the break room. The girl leaves behind a book that will change the course of Plum’s life. The book is called Dietland.

Soon Plum is drawn into the lives of a group of women whose purpose and aim is to subvert the roles society has tried to force on them, and to question all the assumption Plum’s fantasy future is based on – namely that in order to be happy or valued or wanted, a woman must look and act a certain way. When these assumptions are challenged, Plum must face some difficult questions and make some even harder decisions: Is the thin woman she strives to be the realization of a dream, or simply a fantasy she uses to avoid facing who she really is? If she lets go of that fantasy, then what will she become?

There are a lot of strong women in this book, women who help one another, who support one another and who avenge one another. There are parts in the book that push the feminist rhetoric a little far, but for the most part had me nodding along and going, “YES!” It’s an important book, it’s a book that takes the type of story you’d often find in traditional Chick Lit and turns it dizzyingly on its head.

This book made me happy and hopeful – happy that it exists and hopeful that young women will discover it and that it will help them think critically about the place they want to fill in the world. That it will help them assess which parts of society’s prescriptions for women they want to fulfill, and which they want to discard. I’d definitely recommend this if you’re looking for an entertaining story that also leaves you with some serious questions to ponder.


The diet revolution is here. And it’s armed.

Plum Kettle does her best not to be noticed, because when you’re fat, to be noticed is to be judged. Or mocked. Or worse. With her job answering fan mail for a popular teen girls’ magazine, she is biding her time until her weight-loss surgery. Only then can her true life as a thin person finally begin.

Then, when a mysterious woman starts following her, Plum finds herself falling down a rabbit hole and into an underground community of women who live life on their own terms. There Plum agrees to a series of challenges that force her to deal with her past, her doubts, and the real costs of becoming “beautiful.” At the same time, a dangerous guerrilla group called “Jennifer” begins to terrorize a world that mistreats women, and as Plum grapples with her personal struggles, she becomes entangled in a sinister plot. The consequences are explosive.

Dietland is a bold, original, and funny debut novel that takes on the beauty industry, gender inequality, and our weight loss obsession—from the inside out, and with fists flying.Goodreads


Book Title: Dietland
Author: Sarai Walker
Series: No
Edition: Hardback
Published By: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Released: May 26, 2015
Genre: Fiction, Feminism, Body Image
Pages: 310
Date Read: June 28-August 20, 2015
Rating: 8/10

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