by Sarai Walker
Genres: Fiction
Published on May 26th 2015
Pages: 320

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. But when Plum notices she's being followed by a mysterious woman in colorful tights and combat boots, she finds herself falling down a rabbit hole into the world of Calliope House, a community of women who live life on their own terms. Reluctant but intrigued, Plum agrees to a series of challenges that force her to deal with the real costs of becoming "beautiful." At the same time, a dangerous guerilla group begins to terrorize a world that mistreats women, and as Plum grapples with her own personal struggles, she becomes entangled in a sinister plot. The consequences are explosive. Part coming-of-age story, part revenge fantasy, 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.

I very rarely give out five stars to books but I loved this book! There is so much food for thought here.

Plum has been fat all her life.  During her teenage years she spent time in a Jenny Craig-like program run by a woman called Eulaya Baptist.  She ordered the meals and went to the meetings.  The Baptist Program promised that she would be thin in 9 months.  Before the 9 months were up, Eulaya Baptist died unexpectedly and her daughter shut down the programs.

Now, years later, Plum thinks her only option is a gastric bypass.  Then her real life can being.

But she notices a woman following her for several days.  One day the woman leaves a book for her called Adventures in Dietland by Verena Baptist, the same woman who ruined her life by shutting down The Baptist Program.

Verena inherited a fortune from her mother’s empire and sometimes now she tries to help people who were hurt by her mother’s weight loss program.  She offers Plum $20,000 if she agrees to go through her New Baptist Program before committing to surgery.  She gets to keep the money at the end regardless of her decision.  Plum decides that she has nothing to lose.

Meanwhile a series of revenge crimes against men who have hurt women are being reported.  An individual or group called Jennifer is taking responsibility.  The cable news shows are obsessed with finding out the identity of Jennifer.

Rapists are being killed.  People are being kidnapped and held until British newspapers replace the Page Three topless girls with naked men.  (London tourism booms when this happens.)

It all becomes personal for Plum when someone she knows becomes the first suspect.

Have you read this book?  I’d love to discuss it.

  • Are Jennifer’s actions justified?

I’m not a fan of violence for any reason but I understand the thinking behind it.

  • Are women guilty of thinking that they have to be attractive to be important?
  • Why would Jennifer target a porn star in addition to the men?  To me she seemed like a survivor and a person who was making a good life for herself outside of porn.