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Dietland
by Sarai Walker


Overview - A Best Book of the Year
Entertainment Weekly Bustle Amazon Women s National Book Association Kirkus Reviews BookPage Kobo LitReactor

Audacious and gutsy and heartbreaking Dietland completely blew me away.
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More About Dietland by Sarai Walker
 
 
 
Overview
A Best Book of the Year
Entertainment Weekly Bustle Amazon Women s National Book Association Kirkus Reviews BookPage Kobo LitReactor

Audacious and gutsy and heartbreaking Dietland completely blew me away. Jennifer Weiner

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. With her job answering fan mail for a teen magazine, she is biding her time until her weight-loss surgery. But when a mysterious woman in colorful tights and combat boots begins following her, Plum falls down a rabbit hole into the world of Calliope House an underground community of women who reject society s rules and is forced to confront the real costs of becoming beautiful. At the same time, a guerilla group begins terrorizing a world that mistreats women, and Plum becomes entangled in a sinister plot. The consequences are explosive.

A giddy revenge fantasy that will shake up your thinking and burrow under your skin (Entertainment Weekly), Dietland takes on the beauty industry, gender inequality, and our weight-loss obsession with fists flying."

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780544373433
  • ISBN-10: 054437343X
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
  • Publish Date: May 2015
  • Page Count: 320


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Literary
Books > Fiction > Contemporary Women

 
BookPage Reviews

Spotlight: A duo of daring debuts

What comes to mind when you think of women’s fiction? If the word is “predictable,” think again: Two fearless first-time novelists are turning tropes upside down.

In their first novels, authors Eliza Kennedy and Sarai Walker are pushing the boundaries of popular fiction with female-centered stories that blend dark twists and searing social commentary in ways that draw from literary fiction (Notes on a Scandal to Anna Karenina) and suspense (insert obligatory Gone Girl reference).

Lily Wilder, the charismatic narrator of Kennedy’s I Take You, is doubting her decision to marry—but not for the reasons you’d expect. Lily, a successful lawyer, isn’t worried that the ceremony won’t be picture-perfect or that her fiancé will run out on her: She’s afraid that marriage will cramp her not-exactly-monogamous lifestyle. 

As for Plum Kettle, the overweight protagonist of Sarai Walker’s Dietland, the person who changes her life isn’t a man. It’s a mysterious young woman, who initiates the virtually housebound Plum (who is planning on having bariatric surgery) into a secret society of guerrilla fighters who are committing terrorist acts against the patriarchy. Targets range from gang rapists to a “Girls Gone Wild”-type filmmaker.

Lily and Plum are heroines who lie outside the social norms, both those of real life and those of women’s fiction. Lily loves her fiancé, Will, but she also loves sex—lots of it. She isn’t sure if she can change that about herself, or if she even wants to, although by accepting his proposal she’s signed on to try.

For her part, at more than 300 pounds, Plum is not conventionally beautiful, although it’s hard to say for sure since she is usually described through her own very critical eyes. Plum defines herself by her weight, hiding her body in shapeless, colorless clothes and spending years on thankless diets waiting for her skinny self—whom she calls Alicia—to emerge so she can finally start living.

Still, it’s not entirely unusual for stories to start out with women who are a little bit different. After all, that’s why their lives aren’t perfect, right? As the pages turn, you’re waiting for the moment when Lily and Plum transform, become what society expects—which makes you realize just how well-trodden the tropes of popular fiction can be. But as Dietland and I Take You approach their very different but equally satisfying conclusions, it becomes clear that this isn’t the point. Plum and Lily aren’t the ones who need to change—the world is. 

Readers will find themselves cheering on these two truly unconventional heroines all the way to the last page—and be thinking about their choices long afterward.

 

RELATED CONTENT: Read our online Q&A's with Kennedy (I Take You) and Walker (Dietland)
 

This article was originally published in the May 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
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