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Saturday, December 26, 2015

(89)Dietland by Sarai Walker

Plum Kettle is ready to start living her life and is counting down the days until her weight-loss surgery.  She has patiently been preparing for the surgery and life after surgery and that includes buying clothes that "Alicia" (her real name) will wear.  Plum's life up to now has been  pretty stark. She has no friends, she doesn't go anywhere, she doesn't do anything, and she even has a telecommuting job working for a posh teen magazine. Her whole existence is planning for her life after the surgery.  She stumbles across a book that sets her on a new course.  The book, Adventures in Dietland, is written by the daughter of the late weight-loss guru and soon Plum is pulled into a world where strong women have strong ideas on body image, what defines beauty, and are set on changing Plum's mind about surgery.  They promise Plum $20,000 if she agrees to complete a set of tasks that is meant to change her own perspective on beauty.  It doesn't take long for Plum to feel accepted and part of something greater than herself, but then she realizes that there might be more to this little group of misfits.  Could they be part of a vigilante group that is making men pay for their transgressions?

Dietland was one of the most unique books I have read this year.  Body-image has been a theme for me recently and I was thrilled to find such a great read.  I could see a little bit of myself in Plum Kettle, but I also found her a bit irritating in the way she was hiding from the world.  As an overweight woman, I get the desire for anonymity, but she took it to an extreme.  The weight loss groups mentioned in the book were very similar to groups that exist today.  Waist Watchers? The Baptist Diet Plan? Millions of people, mostly women, have given hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to diet plans just like them.  The women Plum meets along the way are also among the most unique characters of the year.  Marlowe, Verena,  and Leeta are all so unique they felt almost cartoonish.  There was a part of the book towards the end that was a bit over the top, a certain room in the basement. That whole scene was a bit weird for me, almost out of place.  That didn't stop me from enjoying Dietland and it's message.

Bottom line - Dietland is a delectable book about one woman's quest for beauty and in the end she found self-acceptance.  Definitely a great selection if you are hoping to make a change in 2016.