Dietland - Sarai Walker

Dietland was the first pick in The Militant Baker's book club. I liked the premise of the story so I picked it up, and I enjoyed reading it in parts. Having finished today, it feels like I read two different books fused together and they didn't even out.


This is the story of a young woman called Plum. She is overweight, has been most of her life, and played the diet game. She's the token fat girl at the workplace, a media corporation thriving on making women feel bad about themselves, then selling them crap as band-aid remedies. Plum's bought into the whole thin is in mantra and is planning WLS when she befriends a group of women. Rebels.


Here's where it gets odd for me: the story motors along nicely with the daughter of a fraudulent diet queen working to improve Plum's self-esteem and sense of self without giving in to societal norms, then it takes this left turn with a subplot about a subversive woman (or group) called Jennifer kidnapping and killing men. Remember in Fried Green Tomatoes when Evelyn is telling Ninnie how she'd like to put bombs in Penthouse magazine and machine gun rapists' genitals?


Well, Jennifer's actually doing it. While it makes for interesting reading, it seems out of place in Dietland. I think if I had read Plum's story alone I would have enjoyed it more. The Jennifer thread misses the mark for me, I think because we really don't get into the heads of the people involved there. Plum watches TV news for reports on Jennifer and pieces together her indirect involvement with them. Like Plum, we are spectators in that drama and therefore can't get as close to it as we can with Plum.


Dietland is good in parts, but on whole it missed the target for me.