Reading Dietland is indubitably equivalent to walking a mile in the enormous shoes of our nearly thirty year old, three-hundred-four-pound narrator, PReading Dietland is indubitably equivalent to walking a mile in the enormous shoes of our nearly thirty year old, three-hundred-four-pound narrator, Plum. I’ve never felt that I could genuinely understand a position I’ve not actually been in. Until now. This unprecedented presentation of current social issues is more than thought-provoking. It is painful and tragic, with portions that are harsh, raw, and deserving of deliberation.
Commanding characters create empathy and sympathy as they uncomfortably reveal reasons for actions. The potpourri of concerns surrounding our narrator include: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, female vigilantes, fat-shaming, feminism and self-acceptance. Ms. Walker unapologetically strips down her characters (yes, literally...occasionally), giving the reader circumstances and background information, along with bigger picture views that beckon the most open of minds to take in just a bit more.
Plum’s story unfolds most poignantly. The reader meets Plum in present day to fully understand her lifestyle and goals. Where she is, where she thinks she will be. Why she is being stalked.
The intriguing Stalker Girl leaves a book for Plum that upon opening; mentally and emotionally whisks her twelve years back in time; to when she was about the same age as the girls that write “Dear Kitty” letters to her filled with “predictable topics…boys, razors and their various uses….” Three years of providing “big sisterly” support and advice regarding matters as pressing as “why won’t he call?” and “can a girl ask a boy out?” begins to seem frivolously indulgent.
Buried in the book, Plum gradually moves away from her daily correspondence with teen girls to spending face-to-face time with grown women. Life-goals beg reexamination. Violent acts of revenge exacted by a woman known only as “Jennifer” force Plum to consider matters she’s blissfully ignored as well as creating a bit of mystery that tickled the back of this reader’s mind with possible connections to Plum’s “work world” and new and improving small, intimate “world of friends”.
My very favorite thing about Dietland is the long list of quotes I pulled. The words grabbed me while I was reading, enough to be worthy of highlight, and that is spectacular thing; but reviewing the quotes later, out of context…..was absolutely stunning.
My crystal ball tells me that after the May 2015 release, we are going to be hearing a lot about Dietland. I believe that it will be the “something totally different and efficacious” book of 2015. ...more
The charmingly impish Jackson boys are back and their parents are out of the country!
Before their teen-aged cousin/care-taker could speed-dial her boThe charmingly impish Jackson boys are back and their parents are out of the country!
Before their teen-aged cousin/care-taker could speed-dial her boyfriend, Derek and his younger brother Sam unwittingly embark on another adventure. Since moving to Richmond, Virginia, the duo has developed a pleasing fascination with the multitude of historical events that took place in and around the area. Steeped in Civil War lore, buoyed by the requisite ghost stories and punctuated with statues mid-street, it is no wonder that their curiosity was piqued.
Enjoying the freedom, Derek and Sam explore Belle Isle riding their bicycles on the narrow, winding trails. Meeting the wrong people mid-expedition takes the brothers off the trails to the ruins of Civil War prison. Graffiti was not necessarily a surprising find, but the fact that a creepy ghost had been chosen as the object d’art proved a bit unnerving. Sam immediately remembered the scary stories shared by the gruff, elderly next door neighbor. Mr. Haskins relayed true accounts of the “War Between States”, but he may have taken some liberties when telling of the ghosts. Visiting his best friend at her mother’s bookstore, Sam notices the same ghost decorating the distressed leather stretched taunt across the backs of a motorcycle gang.
As the boys attempt to connect the dots, the reader is treated to a potpourri of awesome. Details such as Lincoln’s visit to Richmond days before his demise, Lee’s surrender, the family rifts caused by the battles enhance the history we learned in school. Conversations are quick, witty and spot on and serve to color the characters in a realistic hue. Sage advice (and a demonstration) as to how to handle bullies comes from a surprising source and brings levity, along with a gentle reminder not to form an opinion based solely on outward appearances. The knowledge that brothers tease, torment and argue, but ultimately have your back, provides a sweet side-note.
This fast-paced, courageous tale is ideal for young readers to enjoy alone or reading aloud with a sibling. The solid, no-frills-needed, writing style of Mr. Smith is particularly appealing to parents, grand-parents, teachers…..really any adult in the fortunate position of reading to a child. Captivated by the ghost stories, readers may be inspired to gather the family and traipse around Belle Isle, keeping a watchful eye out for mysterious lights over the river. ...more