When I picked up a copy of Dietland, the debut novel by author Sarai Walker, I had no idea what to expect from a book jacket with a picture of a cupcake made to look like a hand grenade. There were book jacket blurbs that used words like subversive and devious. When I started the first page I knew I was witnessing a new talent to the world of books.
Ms. Walker is certainly one pissed off writer and you cheer her character Plum Kettle to the very last page. Good news, or at least I hope so, there could be future adventures of Ms. Kettle. Please Ms. Walker, I beg you to continue writing books about her!
Sorry for getting carried away but when you meet Plum Kettle, a 300-pound woman who writes a Dear Kitty letter for someone working at a Vogue-like magazine, you will instantly fall in love with her. Plum does not like being fat. In fact she wants to have surgery to have a stomach the size of a walnut. She even has a new name for herself when the surgery is complete.
She believes she will be truly happy once she is skinny. The world is constantly showing her that skinny people are happier than fat ones. In fact, she admits that people seem to pretend she is not there because she is so obese. Throughout the book and in fact for most of her life she faces humiliations that most of us would never think of. There is even a very funny scene with Plum going on a blind date with blind man. Yes, it’s as funny as it sounds.
The novel takes a serious turn when Plum goes to the basement of the office building where she works. (She is not allowed to work in the building so spends her time writing in a coffee shop.) She meets a woman who is in charge of the makeup and giveaways for the company. Her name is Julia. She is in charge of more than you think.
This is also when we get a flashback about a diet plan Plum joined when she was younger and that ended up putting her on the track most Americans try when they go on a diet. It’s set up to make you fall off the wagon and just put the weight right back on.
The daughter of the woman who set up the plan has a mission to give back to the community that tried her mother’s diet. There is also a woman who is following Plum around who she is very suspicious of.
Now there is a lot more to report on this novel but I feel telling you more would ruin the suspense as well as all the amazing things that Ms. Walker does with the men who wrong women in this novel. It’s truly stuff we all think of doing but would never consider actually doing. It’s gleeful when it’s happening and I can see many women starting book clubs over this book and calling them Jennifer clubs (inside reader’s joke).
The only complaint I have with this novel is sometimes Plum eats any foods she wants after she discovers her better self. Putting bad food in your body does nobody any good so hopefully in the sequel to this novel (yes, I’m begging you Ms.Walker) that she will discover eating healthy food is the best revenge! I’m salivating in anticipation. Someone get me a cupcake or a carrot stick!