Review: Dietland

Dietland, Sarai Walker


Expected publication: May 26th 2015 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Hardcover, 320 pages


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.

Sometimes when I finish a book I wish that my sister lived much closer to me. Because then I could physically put the book in her face and say READ THIS NOW BECAUSE I NEED TO TALK ABOUT IT.  I would not have to worry about silly things like jobs or miles between us or families that need attention.  I need to be able to grab my sisterly share of Holly’s life.  So Holly when you read this add Dietland to your TBR please.  I swear its up your alley!

We meet Plum while she’s waiting to undergo gastric bypass surgery.  Plum’s given name is Alicia- but that’s not who she feels like. Alicia is her skinnier self.  When Plum has had the surgery and feels like Alicia then her real life can start.  So I started this book feeling really sad for Plum.  She’s basically alone.  She talks to her parents on the phone, has one friend and works from home because she’s not thin enough to go into the office of the teen magazine that she works for.  And then she starts being followed.

It’s here that Dietland takes a turn for the bizarre. And the asskicking.  Plum meets a group of women who challenge how she feels about her body and about her future plans.  As Plum goes through her personal crisis, Jennifer breaks onto the American news scene.  Who is Jennifer is the question that everyone is asking?  I would say that Jennifer is a reaction to the news media that blames victims, that objectifies women and that doesn’t care about young women.  My favorite description of Jennifer was this:

“I think it’s a response to terrorism.  From the time we’re little girls, we’re taught to fear the bad man who might get us.  We’re terrified of being raped, abused, even killed by the bad man, but the problem is, you can’t tell the good one from the bad ones, so you have to be wary of them all… The fear of men is ingrained in us from girlhood.  Isn’t that a form of terrorism?

So how do Plum and Jennifer link together?  Read it and find out because I’m not going to spoil it.  But this book gives you so much to think about after reading.  I’m still thinking about body image and the F-word (F-A-T) and then the other F-word (FEMINISM!) and terrorism against women.  I’m thinking about what our reaction as a society should be and what to teach my daughter.

4.5 stars!

Have you read Dietland?  What did you think?! Let’s talk!

Thank you Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and NetGalley for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion.


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