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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. Or mocked. Or worse. With her job answering fan mail for a popular teen girls’ magazine, she is biding her time until her weight-loss surgery. Only then can her true life as a thin person finally begin.

Then, when a mysterious woman starts following her, Plum finds herself falling down a rabbit hole and into an underground community of women who live life on their own terms. There Plum agrees to a series of challenges that force her to deal with her past, her doubts, and the real costs of becoming “beautiful.” At the same time, a dangerous guerrilla group called “Jennifer” begins to terrorize a world that mistreats women, and as Plum grapples with her personal struggles, she becomes entangled in a sinister plot. The consequences are explosive.

Dietland is a bold, original, and funny debut novel that takes on the beauty industry, gender inequality, and our weight loss obsession—from the inside out, and with fists flying.

320 pages, Hardcover

First published May 26, 2015

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About the author

Sarai Walker

2 books763 followers
Sarai Walker is the author of the novel THE CHERRY ROBBERS, which will be published by Harper Books on May 17, 2022. Her first novel, DIETLAND, has been published in more than a dozen countries and was adapted as a television series for AMC. She has lectured on feminism and body image internationally, and has spoken about these topics widely in the media. Her articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian and elsewhere, and she worked as a writer and editor on an updated version of Our Bodies, Ourselves. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Bennington College and a PhD in English from the University of London.

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5 stars
4,456 (20%)
4 stars
7,177 (33%)
3 stars
6,263 (29%)
2 stars
2,509 (11%)
1 star
831 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,326 reviews
Profile Image for Liz.
Author 42 books587 followers
August 7, 2015
It is jarring to me how many reviews of this book state that people liked the storyline about Plum when she was starving herself, hiding and ashamed of her weight, waiting for the day that she would one day be thin, but that once the book delved into some deep feminist terrorism territory, with the main character finally being able to lash out against the society that made her ashamed of who she was in the first place, Plum is then considered "unlikable". I think the point of this book may flown waaaaaayyyy over their heads. I, for one, relished in this no-holds-barred takedown of the beauty industry and rape culture.
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,563 reviews5,868 followers
November 25, 2017

Before I go all ranty and piss everyone off, I will say the first part of this book is really good.
Plum is overweight. That pretty much defines this girls life. She keeps telling herself that her "real life" will begin as soon as she has weight loss surgery and becomes thin. Of course, that's bullshit. But it's what society has taught Plum to feel about herself.
She works from her computer for a teen fashion magazine, giving advice to young girls who write the editor of the magazine. Dear Kitty, Dear Kitty handles some of a girls life issues that are pretty hard subjects. Plum handles them in a way that made me love her character....at first.
You get the past life that made Plum who she is from growing up in a house that a famous actress had lived at (Plum felt she was always on display to the tourist sneaking pictures) and her try at the weight loss clinic. The weight loss guru who started the program lost weight after having a child and it's one of those that supplies you gross food so that you never have to step foot in a grocery store.
Weight loss guru's daughter steps in and shuts down the franchise and poor Plum is crushed.
Fast forward to where she is now, working the Dear Kitty advice column and hiding from real life.


I don't know what the fuck happened to the second part of this book. At feminist militia group named "Jennifer" pulls Plum into it's clutches.

Okay, so here's where I piss people off. These feminists really went over the top for me. I get that women should not be fat-shamed, women should not be abused because "they were asking for it", the porn industry..well I hate that shit so I'm not going there.
This book only shows the hate part. Woman power is fine. I get that. I'm a woman. But honestly people it can be carried too far. There is men being executed in the book and everyone feels fine with it.
Men get fat-shamed too.
What about that bag of tricks? Not mentioned here though.

The book turned Plum's character into a hateful bitch. I mean at first she was so like-able and then she went there? I don't get it. Why not turn her into someone smart that showed that all people have rights?
I hated it. HATED it. I would have one starred this shit storm if not for that awesome beginning.
Oh, for the trolls that will probably come because of course the masses love this book. Guess what? I'm an asshole. It's my opinion. Go write your own review.
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,179 reviews9,242 followers
June 29, 2015
Earlier this year a company called Protein World launched this advert in the London Underground

and over 50,000 women signed a petition calling for it to be banned for body shaming (and it was banned). The posters were defaced with many rude words. Other protestors offered alternative versions of beauty

Well, seeing as to how this is the Planet Earth and not the Planet Disney, you won’t be surprised to learn that sales of Protein World’s “Weight Loss Collection” products took off like a rocket after all the bad publicity. But that’s by the bye.

So, you don’t have to look far to find examples of the female body as a political and psychological battleground. This book is all about that. It’s Fat is a Feminist Issue crossed with Fight Club. (Our author says this is pretty much a riff on Fight Club in her acknowledgements.) It’s the story of Plum, a 300 pound woman who has spent her life wishing she was “normal”-sized. She’s gone through all the diets, nothing has worked, and finally she decides to go for the stomach-stapling surgery. But before that happens she gets involved with a bunch of feminists, and then while we’re following the detailed account of Plum’s consciousness-raising, a brand new terrorist group hits the headlines – it’s called Jennifer and this part of the novel is a fantasy of feminist revenge, whereby porn barons and rapists are abducted, murdered and dumped in the desert. Oh, and their female aiders and abetters are killed too. It’s all more than a little cartoony, but that was fine by me. I love a bit of revenge.

Along the way, we have accounts of Plum shoplifting from stores called V--- S--- … yes, like that. She says many rude things about V—S--. Well, I guess Sarai Walker was advised that if she actually said Victoria’s Secret she may get a writ.

I didn’t have a problem with this being an explicitly political and not very realistic wish-fulfilment fantasy. The problem with this novel was that it just didn’t go far enough. To explain why will involve spoilers.


In the end I needed more feminist terrorism, and particularly more investigation of the effects such a terrorist group would have on society – for instance, they issue a “Penis Blacklist” featuring the names of 50 misogynists – any woman having sex with any of these men will be killed, they say. Well, I want to know what happened then! What a luridly interesting idea! But it’s just kind of tossed off, if that’s not an inappropriate phrase.

Heart in right place, keyboard not quite there yet.
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,427 reviews8,340 followers
July 8, 2018
This book captured the glorious feminist spirit I wanted The Power to have but did not. In Dietland we follow 300-pound Plum Kettle, a fat woman who does her best to go unnoticed. All her life, people have judged, excluded, and harassed her because of her weight. So while she works her day job answering fan mail for a teen girls' magazine, she waits for the day of her weight-loss surgery, so she can finally begin her new and improved life as a thin person. Plum's plans get sidetracked, though, when she falls into an underground community of women who value empowerment and supporting one another. These women encourage Plum to confront her past and her beliefs about her weight. At the same time, a lethal guerrilla group called "Jennifer" has started to terrorize men who have mistreated women. This group's actions soon collide with Plum's life in shocking ways.

I loved Plum's character growth throughout Dietland. As someone who had an eating disorder several years ago, I understand the difficult and oftentimes agonizing process of learning to love your body. Thus, I really appreciated Sarai Walker's portrayal of Plum and how she starts out so entrenched in diet culture and self-loathing. Walker shows how all throughout her life, Plum received scorn because of how she looked, how she dared to take up space in a society teaches women to shrink themselves - so how could she cherish her body in such a fatphobic society? Yet, she learns to treat herself with kindness and to fight for what she believes in with the help of the Calliope House, a group of women who live life on their own terms and support one another while fighting the patriarchy. I cheered for the Calliope House throughout the book, as it symbolized the empowerment and healing that can come from a feminist collective. This group of women contained so much compassion and hope and filled a void in Plum's life.

Given the strength and generosity of the women in the Calliope House, including Plum, I feel obligated to address the issue of "unlikability." As Plum learns to love her body, she also learns to recognize all the awful ways that men and society objectify and hurt women. Plum gets angry. And as Audre Lorde writes in "The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism"", anger is a valid and necessary reaction to oppression. I feel grateful that Walker writes anger as a healthful, motivating force that emboldens Plum and the women in the Calliope House to assert themselves and create a better world for girls and women. To be blunt: if you find Plum off-putting or "unlikable" or if you preferred her more meek, self-hating side from the novel's beginning, you may want to examine what society has taught you about acceptable women's behavior, as well as tone-policing in general.

I also adored the inclusion of the "Jennifer" guerrilla group. On a stylistic level, these chapters added suspense and tension that intertwined well with Plum's plot which focused more on her self-discovery. More so, they raised thought-provoking and important questions about sexism, rape culture, and using violence within activism. Walker clearly has a background in women's studies - and I liked how so many of her characters do too - as she incorporates intelligent, fiery scenes that address violence against women, the ways corporations profit from women's bodies, and more. Another blunt point: if your immediate reaction is to judge the book for how it displays women hurting men who have hurt them, I would encourage you to think about how society normalizes violence against women so that we rarely question it, yet many of us feel shocked when women act up to defend themselves or prevent more harm.

Overall, a fantastic novel that integrates the punchiness of Fight Club with the feminism of Margaret Atwood's novels. The themes in Dietland reminded me of Hunger by Roxane Gay and Appetites by Caroline Knapp, two nonfiction books close to my heart. As you can discern from its low star rating, this is a controversial story people have very mixed reactions to. It is often uncomfortable, uncouth, and relentless in its take down of fatphobia and rape culture - which is precisely why I give it five stars.
Profile Image for Ilyssa Wesche.
687 reviews15 followers
November 22, 2014
Yeah that's right - five mother-effing stars. This book spoke to me for the obvious reason but I loved it beyond that. The two story lines worked so nicely together, and all of it made me think about what was happening/between the lines of the book even when I wasn't reading.

Time to buy some colorful tights!!
Profile Image for Dee.
61 reviews49 followers
May 6, 2017
An overweight, ridiculed and insecure woman types away on her laptop at a cafe, writing advice to readers of a girl's magazine, before she notices that a punky type in bright tights and combat boots is watching and following her. Will this obese woman, whose short life has been defined by calories and diets, be pulled into some kind of underground, feminist commune, and what will she do and learn? The first few chapters pulled me in, especially after I read that this was considered a feminist novel by an author versed in that tradition.

It planted me into a place I hardly ever explored: the mind of an obese woman. It exposed a few anti-feminist notions of mine that I didn't know I had. I was often dubious about efforts to get obese women to love their bodies, because wasn't that encouraging unhealthy lifestyles? It was ok for me to accept my own, however, even though it was kept skinny partly through coffee and cigarettes. I also thought if women claimed that diet and exercise weren't working, they were probably just making excuses. A few weeks ago, I was surprised to discover a woman on youtube who could twist herself into difficult yoga positions because she'd been practicing with discipline for years. However, she was still overweight. So it's true that you never stop learning, and this book pushed me towards realising that not all obese women are unhealthy. And even if they are, they've still got the right to love their bodies and they should.

I love when a book comes along to make me reevaluate my worldview. This one did that, and it was also light enough to still be enjoyable and entertaining. Then about halfway through, it lost a bit of the suspense and tension that had pulled me in. I felt the author revealed a bit too much too soon. Several new characters were introduced too quickly and weren't explored enough to give them depth. Some of the scenarios seemed a bit too unbelievable and concocted, and the book didn't quite live up to the promise that I saw in its opening.

Still, not bad for a debut novel and a good read that's both entertaining and thought-provoking.

More reviews on my blog.
Profile Image for Reed.
236 reviews
June 21, 2015
I completely disagree with all the reviews in which readers hated the second half of the book. OMG, the Jennifer activities/terrorist group IS the point! Also disagree that the characters are unlikable -- I was rooting for the women in Calliope House all the way. (How can you not love Sana?) If the book had simply addressed Plum and the fat issues, it would have been a much more comfortable book. The subversion lies in the "domestic terrorism" being aimed at men, instead of at women (which is routine). That's what makes it uncomfortable and, I would guess, why some readers hated it. This is definitely not a book for everybody. But I loved it.
Profile Image for jv poore.
609 reviews203 followers
March 18, 2022
Reading 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.

When I read this the first time, my crystal ball told me that after the May 2015 release, we would be hearing a lot about Dietland. I believe that it will be the “something totally different and efficacious” book of 2015. I did not expect to be reading about the casting for the television series in 2018, however. This should be interesting.
Profile Image for Theresa.
227 reviews140 followers
January 4, 2022
"Dietland" by Sarai Walker was one of my favorite novels I read last year. This book is tasty, wicked, bizarre, disturbing, and highly entertaining. The protagonist of "Dietland" is a 300+ pound woman named Alicia (Plum) Kettle. Plum has lived a life of extreme self-hatred and loneliness. She doesn't have many friends, she's never been in a serious, romantic relationship, and her job is anything but glamorous. She also has clinical depression. Plum has struggled with her weight since she was a kid. She believes she will achieve true happiness if she undergoes gastric bypass surgery. While waiting for her upcoming surgery, Plum keeps running into a very strange and colorfully dressed woman. Is this woman deliberately following Plum, or is it just her imagination?

What makes this novel so crazy and unique is the unexpected plot twist. There's an all-female terrorist group (called "Jennifer" of all things) causing mayhem and "sweet revenge" upon sexually abusive men. This book is extremely difficult to review because it's basically a story within a story. Plum's journey of self-acceptance is completely separate from the "Jennifer" storyline. Towards the middle of the book, everything starts to blend/weave together and that's when the plot really comes alive. This book deals with some heavy topics such as: eating disorders, fat shaming, sexual violence, pornography, guerilla warfare, and misconceptions about body image/sexual attractiveness in the media.

Keep in mind, this book is a satire. It's definitely not meant to be taken seriously. But you'll definitely need to have an open mind while reading "Dietland". It's a brutally honest account of how the beauty/diet industry in America (and around the world) deceives and cripples the female psyche. Don't let the glossy cover of this book fool you - it's a killer. Plum Kettle for President! :)
Profile Image for Hannah.
289 reviews51 followers
March 10, 2015
Once in a decade, a novel comes along with the potential to alter our perception of reality, to change how we see ourselves and to reveal new possibilities in how we can live lives of joy and freedom. For many readers, Sarai Walker’s debut novel Dietland may be just that.
I am someone who rates reading right up there with breathing, eating, and loving, and who begins and ends her day with a book in her hand. But for me, the experience of reading Dietland has been something altogether new and different.
Dietland begins with Alicia “Plum,” a fat woman whose life revolves around her efforts to become her true, thin ‘Alicia,’ self. Plum’s plans are abruptly derailed when a mysterious girl named Leeta writes the word “DIETLAND” on Plum’s palm.
What happens next to Plum is life changing, and nothing that she (or the reader) could expect. I read Dietland with very little knowledge of the plot other than what I’ve shared above, and I would recommend that anyone interested read it (at least at first) in that same, fresh, way.
What I will say for now is that I’ve struggled my whole life with the realization that I don’t fit, and don’t want to try to fit, in a culture which tells me to be smaller. Dietland is the first book to convincingly show me a way in which a life of freedom might be possible. I know I will read Dietland many times in the future, and hope I have the opportunity to talk about it with other readers.
Dietland is a book that is for all women, but it is also a book that is intensely personal. It is very funny, very smart, and utterly absorbing. It contains scenes of graphic violence, but left me feeling comforted and energized. Read Dietland as a love letter to all women, and to yourself.
I received an advanced review edition of Dietland from the publisher through NetGalley.
Profile Image for Idarah.
464 reviews49 followers
June 25, 2016
"I hated it when others alluded to my size, despite the obviousness of it. It was as if they were confirming that there was something wrong with me when I’d hoped they hadn’t noticed it." – Plum

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I couldn't have read this book at a better time in my life, which is funny because I was meant to be reading Beautiful Bureaucrat, which was recommended by a friend, and confused the covers somewhere down the line. I am positive that what made this book so awesome was that I knew virtually nothing about the characters, themes or plot beforehand. If you decide to read this anytime soon, I recommend not reading too many plot heavy reviews; it will spoil the punchy message of the book.

Plum hovers around 300 pounds and lives a predictable life as a magazine columnist in Brooklyn, New York. A series of strange events force her out of the protective shell she's created for herself, and into the center of a feminist movement that's taking over the world. In a creative and outspoken voice, Sarai Walker expounds upon subjects like body image, the diet industry, sexism and the objectification of women in entertainment/media. I've never read The Feminine Mystique or anything in that genre, so this book was really fresh to me. It made me feel better about myself! I loved watching Plum transform from the inside out, and her final realization about her body made tears well up in my eyes. I think it's easy to forget that simple message, but it's one I will remind myself of constantly.

"I looked at my body, the body that had kept me alive for nearly thirty years, without any serious health problems, the body that had taken me where I needed to go and protected me. I had never appreciated or loved the body that had done so much for me. I had thought of it as my enemy, as nothing more than a shell that enclosed my real self, but it wasn’t a shell. The body was me. This is your real life. You’re already living it."
Profile Image for Dana.
440 reviews290 followers
June 25, 2015

Well...this was super weird. Dietland felt like it didn't know what kind of book it wanted to be. On one hand it was focused on an overweight woman struggling with her life and the decision of whether or not to get weight loss surgery. On the other other hand it was about a Neo-Feminist vigilant group that's on a killing spree. The second part came out of nowhere, and we never really know what is going on...and not in an “ooooh mystery!” kind of way, more like a “wtf?” way.

It didn't help that the main character was so abrasive. While I do think there were some amazing feminist tidbits in this book, overall it just went to too many extremes, and for me that ended up making the story a bit of a joke.

2.5 stars, but I'm rounding this to three because even though I had issues with this book, I still really appreciated the spotlight on the objectification of women. I think at times I can be a bit blind when it comes to sexism in society, and this book really makes you open your eyes and realize that this behavior should not simply be considered normal.

Buy, Borrow or Bin Verdict: Borrow

Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Hannah Notess.
Author 4 books71 followers
November 11, 2015
Totally bonkers in the best possible way! Feminist terrorist collective! Ridiculously named shades of nail polish! Mortifying letters from teenage girls (one of the best genres out there)! Horrifying medical procedures! And somehow this book is hilarious, entertaining, fast-paced, and thought-provoking.

You will like this book if you are a mild-mannered feminist who nonetheless cherishes a very dark sense of humor.

I would LOVE to have a book club conversation on this book; it would be a fantastic one to have discussion about.
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,474 reviews19.2k followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
July 30, 2018
DNF at about 65%. This was EXTREMELY well written, but I just don’t think satirical novels really work for me. I appreciated what it was doing, but it was giving me some weird feelings regarding my own self-love journey and I just decided to put it down. I definitely still recommend trying this one out for yourself! It just personally didn’t work well for me.
Profile Image for Melody Sams.
63 reviews30 followers
June 22, 2018
If orange is the new black, then Jennifer is the new orange. Get with it! Or get with her, I should say.

I’m not a big fan of vigilantism, but in this story, Jennifer wound up being exactly the wake up call society needed. And it needed it badly.

What a brilliant mix of storytelling and social commentary! Dietland should be read by women everywhere.

After seeing the show on AMC, I did a little research and realized it was based on a book. I ate it up, and so should you!
1,641 reviews
June 4, 2015
I wanted to like this book. The main character has potential, the message is a positively feministic one with the right underlying aura of needed societal change. However, the storyline was just too bizarre for me and the characters too outlandish. Everyone is the "nth" degree in personality or opinion concerning just about everything (and everything in this book comes down to the objectivization of women). The females were all too strident in their tone and all the men were lascivious animals. It was hard to take the message seriously with all these over-the-top characterizations. Sorry to be counter to many five star ratings but I just didn't see the allure of this novel and yet I read it until the very end thinking I was missing something. In the end it just wasn't there.
Profile Image for Jill.
367 reviews1 follower
June 11, 2015
Sadly, I thought this was a slightly muddled mess of missed opportunities. The premise was fantastic; Plum, a morbidly obese woman who ghost-writes an advice column for the uber-cool and svelte publisher of a teen magazine, comes into the crosshairs of a slightly subversive group of women who want to change the world AND convince Plum to accept herself as she is.

There are actually two groups in the book. One group is the kooky, don't know exactly what they are going to accomplish Calliope House Collective that takes Plum under their wing. I felt too much time was spent on this group and their 'work' with Plum (and yes, I understand that Plum is the Everywoman symbol here - if she can change, our society can change, etc.). Too much time and detail spent on Plum navel gazing, baking and spending time in the porn room (yawn!).

The missed opportunity is with the second group - the elusive "Jennifer". They are a feminist group along the lines of the hacker group 'Anonymous'. They aren't afraid to resort to kidnapping and murder to accomplish their purpose of improving women's lives. THAT was the story I wanted to read and felt like I kept getting teased with Jennifer tidbits without getting their full story. A prime example of this was the storyline of Julia, the makeup warehouse 'keeper' who is undercover and gathering dirt on the womens' magazines publisher. She appears all throughout the book....we know she could expose a lot of dirt...and the best we get is her passing some info to Plum? What?

Make the Jennifer group the story here, explore more what could happen when women rise up to change their world. THAT would be an exciting read.
Profile Image for Cristina.
13 reviews1 follower
February 17, 2015
I started out enjoying this book very much, the story of Plum and her struggles with weight loss, her lifelong obsession with food and dieting but it took a strange turn with the story of Jennifer (and I love strange turns) but this one was negative and a bit random, it slowly made me dislike all the characters including and especially Plum who turned from a hopeful dreamer into an angry ,confrontational and quite unlikeable young woman.
Profile Image for Angela.
164 reviews
July 1, 2017
If I could give this book less than one star, I would. I would give it negative stars & burn every copy that I come across. It is truly awful.

I can't imagine what made anyone recommend this as a feminist novel. It pains me on a spiritual level that this was written by a woman. I was screaming silently through most of the book.

First, the main character's weight causing people to stare and make rude comments. I weigh about as much as the main character. No one stares at me. No one has ever laughed at me or made jokes about me. People just aren't that mean & her weight isn't ridiculously huge enough to justify it. Now, if you said 500 lbs, I'd believe you, but children do not point and laugh or stare at me and ask their moms weird questions. And please, don't try to tell me it's the main character's anxiety. The author actually shows these things happening to the main character on the regular when she goes out in public.

Coming off of anxiety/depression medication. Holy crap. So, you're going to encourage people to come off of medication that they've been on for years, without the guidance of a medical professional. She obviously needed it; look at the outcome. And the "therapist" just drops her as she's having a complete mental breakdown.

The weight loss surgery. Ugh. There is a lot of prep and hard work that goes in to having that surgery. You don't just schedule it. For months and even up to a year before, depending on your insurance and the recommendations of the doctor, you are working to ready yourself for the surgery. You diet, you meet with a nutritionist, you meet with a therapist, you work out with the guidance of a personally trainer. You also have a liquid diet for several weeks before the surgery to shrink your liver and make it light enough to lift and move during the procedure. Did the author not even google this stuff?

The kiss. What the flip? Honestly, lady. This woman has never shown any interest in her entire life for women. Now that she's having this breakthrough experience of becoming a feminist she's going to kiss women? The only way she can do that is to want to murder men and make out with women. Can you hear it? The screaming in my head?

Anyway, I hate everything about this book. Please don't read it.
Profile Image for Lilli.
119 reviews29 followers
March 21, 2022
Alicia "Plum" Kettle is a 30-something, 300-pound woman who has spent her whole life hiding. She knows better than anyone that despite best efforts, it is impossible to hide from the world as a fat woman. Still, she does her best, working from home masquerading as the editor-in-chief of Daisy Chain, the teen girl magazine that employs her to answer fan mail. It's not the writing career she imagined for herself, but hey, at least she's writing. Plum's world is painfully small for someone so large, and she spends her time withering alone in her apartment, talking to her only friend at a local café, counting every calorie she consumes, and inching financially towards the freedom she believes weight-loss surgery will finally allow her to have.

Kitty Montgomery, said editor-in-chief, debriefs monthly with Plum to ensure she is embodying the confident, independent spirit and "healthy lifestyle" she herself is famed for. On the way to this meeting one month, Plum notices she is being followed by an ebullient, bizarrely dressed young woman named Leeta. Leeta works for Julia, who is in charge of the beauty closet at Daisy Chain but is really there getting information and dirt on the corrupt media company that owns the magazine. Plum finds herself entangled with the two, and as a result, with an underground feminist collective called "Calliope House," where she launches into a journey of fat- and self-acceptance and finally finds her people. Meanwhile, a guerilla terrorist group of radical feminists calling themselves "Jennifer" make themselves known to the world through shocking acts of violence, and before she knows what hit her, Plum is wrapped up in their takedown campaign of rape culture, beauty standards, and media practices that leave women with the short end of the stick. Who is Jennifer? How far will they take their violent acts?

Wow, this book left me absolutely floored. It accomplished so much and managed to be entirely absorbing while doing so! This book made me rethink my own fat-acceptance and body image and truly made me feel so much better. I'm not fat in the way Plum is, but I'm still a pretty chubby gal, and my confidence has really taken a hit over the last few years as I've grown into my body more and gained weight. This book made me feel so silly for thinking I'm literally worth less now that my body has changed. That's rubbish! The commentary offered on diet culture and fatphobia was extremely eye-opening to me and when I finished the book and looked in the mirror, I thought, DAMN! I look great! Haters can hate all they want but I'm already ready for bikini season as-is! The chapter where Plum recalls her teenage years and the time she went on the Baptist diet plan to lose weight hit me so hard. That's when this book sank its teeth into me, and even though I finished it yesterday, it doesn't show signs of letting go anytime soon. I could read 10 sequels to this book. I'm so sad the show got cancelled! I really wasn't ready for this story or my time with Plum, Verena, Julia, Leeta, Marlowe, Rubi, or Sana to end. I'm trying to live in Calliope House, too!

A lot of reviewers felt this book took a turn for the worst when Jennifer was incorporated into the plot and Plum stopped being such a carpet for others to walk all over, but I couldn't disagree more. I loved the anger and the feminism. I've never read something so subversive. We've heard so many stories of terrorism groups headed by angry men and we're never shocked, but the second that women fight violence with violence, it's unacceptable and too unrealistic to be taken seriously? I think if you feel that way, this book went over your head. I'm not saying I condone violence, but I thought as a tool in this book, it was very effective in getting the point across. Just like the TV hosts in Dietland, I couldn't help but rooting for Jennifer. I loved hearing the details of their crimes, as sickening as the catalysts for their actions all were. And beyond the feminist terrorism plots, I also loved Plum's own journey to self-acceptance and every instance of her fighting back. It was so uplifting, and I especially loved her 5 blind dates and how she learned to tell men to shove it. That was amazing. I'll be taking a page out of her book.

This is not a book for every reader. As I said before, it's incredibly subversive and undoubtedly controversial, hence its somewhat lower rating here on Goodreads. But if you have a decent sense of humor, would like a darker, more contemporary feminist story, like Ottessa Moshfegh's work or enjoyed Hank Green's Carls duology, you might just love this. I certainly did and will be thinking about it for a very, very long time. I'm STILL not ready for it to be over!
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,312 reviews660 followers
July 19, 2015
1.5 stars bumped to 2: I had to sit on this novel for a bit before I wrote a review. I didn’t like it much, yet it was thought provoking. In her acknowledgments, Sarai Walker writes “This book owes a debt to second-wave feminists” which if I would have known before I read the book, I would have understood what I was reading. I picked this book based on press:

An Amazon Best Book of the Year So Far
A New York Post “Best Novel to Read This Summer”
An Us Weekly “Hot Summer Novel”
O, The Oprah Magazine, "10 Titles to Pick Up Now"
A USA Today “New and Noteworthy” book
One of Vulture's "8 Books You Need to Read This May"
One of New York Daily News's "10 Books for Your Summer Reading List"
An Indie Next Pick

The novel begins with Plum, the main character, working at a fashion magazine, answering letters from distressed teen girls. Plum is morbidly obese, over 300 pounds. The reader learns the torture of her daily life, as people leer, mock, and mistreat her. She’s been dieting for all her life, and has decided to get weight-loss-surgery. This is when the militant feminism begins. There are some points I agree with: society should NOT mock overweight people; the fashion industry puts unrealistic ideals into society’s expectations of attractiveness; there are cruel men out there who go unpunished for crimes against women. What I disagreed with is that the novel did NOT address the health implications of being morbidly obese. Plum is over 300 pounds and is a short woman. She’s not a bit overweight. The satire part of becoming beautiful is fun to read about. And the satire revenge fantasy is awesome (and no I’m not a man hater, we can all fantasize). Walker does point out how ridiculous our society has become with regard to fashion and advertising. She also makes the reader take a good look at the weight loss industry.

Perhaps I’m too old to truly enjoy the novel because I don’t understand the militant second-wave feminist ideals. Also there are many crass scenes. Finally, the book is part realistic fiction and part satire-ish fiction. Perhaps it’s the melding of the two, which was difficult for me. At any rate, I’m not in the mainstream with my rating, and I don’t recommend it.
Profile Image for Jenna 🧵.
219 reviews77 followers
January 24, 2016
I stand by my original assessment of: If Margaret Atwood and Jennifer Weiner had a love child, this book might be it! However - this book is ambitious - is perhaps even undone by its own ambition - so it deserves a more thorough review. It's also an impressive debut by a clearly skilled, vivid, creative writer with ideas, so I encourage a read even though I ended up feeling unsure about the book overall. And I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for this author in the future.

So why am I so ambivalent in my rating despite all that praise? Well - do you remember how, if you went to high school or college, you perhaps had your first paradigm-shifting encounters with a new (to you) philosophy or discourse? For me it was Marx, Foucault, and, of course, as a student of gender studies, the many thinkers and authors who have contributed to feminist thought and theory. It's very exciting to encounter these kinds of ideas for the first time, and one rite of passage is that the youthful collision with such ideas can (and should) generate some degree of identity crisis (the good kind) as one grapples with and metabolizes these ideas and then synthesizes them with one's existing ideas and sense of self in order to advance into a more mature iteration of self.

Obviously this process works more smoothly for some people than others, but with anyone, it's not uncommon or unexpected to experience some growing pains whilst trying on the various new versions of self, Goldilocks-like, in search of just the right fit. After all, these new ideas can be a shock to the system - for example, if you're a young woman, discovering the whole concept of patriarchy and how patriarchal ideas have unknowingly shaped your identity, thinking, behavior, emotions, decisions, priorities, goals, self-image. That's heavy stuff, and it can be difficult to deal with. And although I'm certainly very grateful to have gone through that difficult growth process to emerge my present-day self - I don't know that I'd want to revisit those days when my peers and I were all struggling to spread our wings and fledge our respective nests. There is a hard-won beauty in the wisdom that comes with age and experience, and I'm not anxious to turn back the clock!

And that's probably why I was dissatisfied with this book, which is essentially a coming of age story about a young woman named Alicia/Plum discovering patriarchy (particularly with regard to ideas about women's beauty, physical bodies, and "femininity") and essentially offers up some very basic feminist ideas and education in this area. ("You want to be thin and not take up space physically or elsewise because the patriarchal culture has influenced you and other women, and really everybody, to think you need to be this way to be a real, desirable, worthy, feminine woman, and pretty much everything in society, especially the media and the forces of consumerism and capitalism, is policing you for compliance.") Don't get me wrong: these are very, very important and, to my mind, correct ideas! But - In the end, I felt it took me back to a place I had already been (like, Women's Studies 101 and 102) and didn't necessarily need to return.

But- I still would have been glad to return! BUT! - except for the fact that the author makes a few other choices that I found offputting. The story of Alicia/Plum's evolution and consciousness-raising is entwined with "footage" from a kind of terrorist uprising movement with which Plum becomes unwittingly entwined. While the idea of feminist uprising is cool - unfortunately, the perpetrators of this activism use extreme violence to protest and communicate their message. And I'm not talking about militant techniques a la PETA or Greenpeace; I'm talking about ISIS-type tactics. While I get the underlying point that the interpersonal and political violence perpetrated by patriarchy is "just as violent" as actual physical violence - I don't know, when it comes to fighting oppression and injustice, it's just not my approach to fight violence with violence.

So there are some trigger warning here in that some of the descriptions of retaliatory violence are quite hardcore, even though the victims are supposedly deserving. There are also some detailed descriptions of pretty degrading hardcore porn, which could be triggering too, as well as descriptions of binge eating that I found perhaps the most upsetting because I thought for a while that the author was going in a very unhealthy direction with her messaging, although she ultimately rights this course toward the conclusion of the book.

Aside from these warnings - know that I would not have taken the time to review the book, and provide all these caveats, if I didn't also want to pique your curiosity! It's a really passionate, unique, engaging book with a worthwhile message delivered in a very interesting manner! For me, the delivery system was just a little bit of an overkill - the author doesn't need to "kill a fly with a hammer" when she's addressing her messaging to the already informed and converted. But for readers to whom these messages are less familiar, perhaps the "big guns" are called for. After all, lord knows the message is important enough to legitimate her efforts, and some of those growing pains back in WS 101 were pretty sharp, as I recall.
Profile Image for Aditi.
920 reviews1,323 followers
May 4, 2016
“I am a better person when I have less on my plate.”

----Elizabeth Gilbert

Sarai Walker, an American best-selling author, has penned her debut entertaining diet-obsessing book, Dietland that is a powerhouse of fun, food and diets that will make the readers roar with laughter over the protagonists the story to lose weight and live her life as a normal human being. So buckle up your seat belts for this hilarious ride that can at times throw you off the edges off your seats.


The wickedly funny feminist revenge fantasy that takes on the beauty industry, gender inequality and our weight-loss obsessed culture with fists flying.

Plum Kettle does her best not to be noticed, because when you're fat, to be noticed is to be judged. Or mocked. Or worse.

But when a mysterious woman starts following her, Plum finds herself involved with an underground community of women who live life on their own terms. At the same time, a dangerous guerrilla group called "Jennifer" begins to terrorize a world that mistreats women. As Plum grapples with her personal struggles, she becomes entangled in a sinister plot, the consequences of which are explosive.

Part coming-of-age story, part revenge fantasy, Dietland is a bold, original and funny debut.

Plum, a.k.a Alicia, who is supposed to be the thinner version of this thirty-something and a 300+ pound woman who has led pretty much all her life by hiding behind her life or trying to get lost in the crowd, so that no one gives her a second look. Plum works as an assistant to a famous teen magazine editor where her job is to answer teen fan mails citing issues and real-life problems, which she does not enjoy at all. She is working as an assistant only to save enough money for a surgery that will make her thin and for that purpose she is already shopping for her thinner version. But one day, she finds herself getting stalked by a strange girl who then leads her to a strange world where women with one motto wants to kidnap and kill men who did injustice to the women and to the world where women live freely and eat freely without worrying about what others will probably think about their weight. Will Plum turn into Alicia and live her life? Well, its for you to find out the answer to that question.

I absolutely LOVED this dark humor, multi-layered story involving Plum who is on a path to self-respect and self-love, and yes the book is honest about so many bitter truth and it does feel like taking a blow below the belt. Okay to be fair, I know many might not enjoy this kind of story which is so heavily layered and meddle among them at the mid of the story line. Moreover, some light find it bit cliched as there are so many novels featuring a plus-size protagonist. But I found it refreshing as the author twists the story that addresses and touches it base with so many current-day issues.

The author's writing style is witty and articulate and is laced with funny anecdotes. The narrative is engaging and is layered with suspense and humor. From the very first page, the readers might find a difficulty in connecting the parallel stories running along with Plum's story, but midway through the book, the readers will find the book extremely engrossing. The pacing is quite swift as the story freely flows into one direction with a number of twists and turns.

The central character is an absolute darling who brightens up the whole book even though she is depressed with her life and weight. Plum or Alicia, I liked both the versions of this girl, who is perfect to hold the baton lead those who feel de-motivated towards their life because of their weight issue. Her demeanor is extracted from reality and she is easy to connect with as the author delves deeper into her childhood thus letting the readers comprehend with her issues. The supporting characters are highly interesting and are well-developed.

The background of Plum's story is incorporated with stories from real-life like incidents like rape, verbal abuse, porn-stars, beauty treatments those are put to justice by a group of women called "Jennifer" and when both the stories leap into one another, the result is something compelling and thought-provoking.

Verdict: A highly thrilling, absolutely feminist yet thoroughly captivating coming-of-age novel.

Courtesy: Thanks to the author, Sarai Walker's publicist, for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book.
Profile Image for Lacie Driscol.
4 reviews
July 27, 2015
I was really disappointed in this book. As someone who was close to 300 pounds and chose to have weight loss surgery, this book was a total flashback to all the people who tried to talk me out of the surgery and it pissed me off all over again, just like it did then. This book insinuates that women only want to lose weight to look pretty and not get made fun of - what about those of us who wanted to lose weight so we could run around with our kids? Who wanted to actively participate in our lives instead of sitting on our asses watching everyone else live theirs?

I really hated the message that I am an anti-feminist because I chose to stop living my life as a fat woman. Weight loss surgery was the best thing I ever did for myself, and if someone is considering it, the last thing they need is more people trying to talk them out of it.
Profile Image for Sheila.
941 reviews84 followers
August 18, 2016
3 stars--I liked the book.

I'd heard the words "Fat is a feminist issue" before, but until reading this book, never really thought about what they meant/if they were true. Consider me convinced!

What I especially liked was that this book twisted my expectations. I expected to read about a woman learning to love herself despite her body. And Plum does learn to love herself, but this isn't about sugary acceptance--why should she have to learn that when there's nothing wrong with her?

This book might be too extreme for some readers, but I've always enjoyed dark humor. To me, this started strong and sort of fizzled in the middle. The most interesting characters (Jennifer, etc.) were "off screen," so to speak, and I really wanted to hear their stories, not Plum's. I also disliked how occasionally other women were villainized (one of my pet peeves in media).

Still, an entertaining read.
Profile Image for Kendal.
43 reviews1 follower
July 6, 2015
I would like to point out that everyone here who describes the main character, Plum, as "overweight" and "obese" and even "morbidly obese," is so totally missing the point. She is fat! A big part of the book is understanding fat as a descriptor without moral weight.

This novel is practically my dream book: rageful fat girls and revolutionary international feminist terror squads, it's almost everything I want in a book: strong fat female lead, lots of politics, unveiling the diet and weight loss industry, and violent feminists trying to dismantle rape culture. I would say the only drawback for me would be it's very firm rooting in second wave feminism, a feminism that is often not intersectional and focused on bourgeois white women. While there were WOC characters in the book, it never engaged with race and racism in any way, which is a pretty glaring drawback.
Profile Image for Manatee.
96 reviews3 followers
February 25, 2015
I liked this book, but something about the ARC seems unfinished. I really did like following the exploits of the feminist political group Jennifer and following the ups and downs of our heroine Plum's life. I found Walker's take on the way that fat women are viewed to be thought provoking.
I liked what the author had to say about the objectification of women's bodies, but I saw two different stories here that would have worked better separately. The shift in tone was too jarring. Separately , Plum's weight loss efforts and her abandonment of the search for traditional beauty would have been a moving and really strong short story. The same can be said of the violent deeds of the groups called "Jennifer" who created a "penis black list" of rapists and exploiters to target. It would have been stronger as its own intense separate story line in the form of a longer novella.
Profile Image for Eilonwy.
814 reviews203 followers
June 30, 2015
3-1/2 stars, rounded up.

Alicia "Plum" Kettle lives a very small life in New York City, basically going in a circle from her apartment to a cafe, where she answers letters from troubled teenage girls sent to Kitty, the editor of a popular teen magazine, who is too busy to respond herself, and home again. Plum figures she'll make some friends and enjoy New York in another year or so, after her "real" life has finally started -- the one in which she's had gastric bypass surgery and lost 150 or so pounds. But a few months before that's scheduled, she notices a girl following her ... and then leading her into a completely different life than Plum has planned for.
I mostly really enjoyed this book. It was a very quick read with some important messages which are expressed through an unusual, but generally not too preachy or heavy-handed, story.

The Good: This story uses an interesting cast of women to make its point. I didn't like or relate to all of the characters, but they were all fascinating, with their own motives and drives, and their own reasons for wanting to influence Plum. Plum is a mix of passive and prickly, and I thought her internal journey, as she tries to decide what messages to believe and who she really wants to be, was realistic and honest, with a balance of wry humor and pain. It's tough for both men and women to be fat in our culture, but there's an extra message to women, no matter what size we are, that we're taking up too much space and we should always be just a bit smaller, and this story speaks to that, even if you're not morbidly obese. I appreciated that Plum realizes that while she may come to accept herself, no one else is going to change -- the world is still going to be full of jerks who feel free to make fun of designated "losers," partly because they can, and partly because they're desperate to feel superior to somebody. I liked how the story illustrated that silence -- accepting the shame heaped on us by others just for being what we are, without challenging it -- lets the jerks win. And I really liked that Plum's emergence from her self-made cocoon and into her real real life came without any romance at all. She didn't need anyone else's seal of approval, but had to find it entirely within herself. I found that a nice switch from so many of the "feel-good" type stories where a woman finds herself through someone else's love (cue NeYo singing "Let Me Love You Until You Learn to Love Yourself").

The Uncomfortable: This story features a somewhat connected plot thread about Jennifer, a female terrorist group which uses murder and threats of murder to try to root out objectification and abuse of women throughout the Western world -- no more Page 3 girls, no more lad magazines, no more porn, no more hiphop laced with feminine epithets, no more anything that allows men to degrade women and believe women and girls are always begging for "it", no matter what we do or say. This plot thread is half really poignant, as the group was motivated by the gang rape and ensuing suicide of a 12-year-old girl, and half kind of appalling. I've found myself really torn over how I feel about this part of the story, and wondering, "Does it seem extra-awful somehow because it's women killing (mostly) men, while I'm just inured to men killing and ruining women because it happens all the time and seems 'normal', ho-hum?" So while I didn't enjoy this part of the book, I can see what the author seems to be trying to say with it, and it's not a comfortable thing to be examining, at all.

Overall, I liked this book enough to give it four stars, and I will definitely read whatever Sarai Walker writes next.
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