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message 1: by Jenn (new)

Jenn | 223 comments Mod
I'm choosing Dietland for our January read. I'm announcing it now because it was published in 2015 and may be difficult to find at the library with too little notice. I'm planning to buy a copy for myself this month. If anyone in my area wants to borrow it, let me know.

message 2: by Wendopolis (new)

Wendopolis | 77 comments I know it's not January yet, but I just finished Dietland. Thanks for choosing this book! It really made me think. I will have more to say but I won't ruin for anyone else. :)

message 3: by Jenn (new)

Jenn | 223 comments Mod
I love this book, Wendy, and I'm glad you liked it.

message 4: by Wendopolis (new)

Wendopolis | 77 comments I'm going to buy copies for my daughters.

message 5: by Jenn (new)

Jenn | 223 comments Mod
Wow, that's awesome!

message 6: by Julie (new)

Julie Place | 87 comments I hated everything about this book! I'm surprised I finished it!

message 7: by Jenn (last edited Dec 20, 2015 10:02PM) (new)

Jenn | 223 comments Mod
Aww, that's too bad, Julie. I'm sad you didn't get anything out of it. I found it life-changing.

message 8: by Julie (new)

Julie Place | 87 comments Yeah I don't know I just found plum to be a very weak character couldn't stand her from the very first page

message 9: by Jenn (new)

Jenn | 223 comments Mod
I think probably a major challenge for Sarai Walker, as she was writing this book, was how to create a 300-lb. depressed protagonist who is both true-to-life and not annoyingly self-pitying and pitiable.

For me, Plum started out weak, but not maddeningly weak. When the book begins, she has a few redeemable qualities. She has a strong work ethic. She has an engaging, relatable voice. Her advice to the magazine's readers is always spot-on and endears you (well, me) to her. We get some of Plum's back story and learn that she's a chronic dieter who's essentially dieted herself into a fat body. The reasons for her depression become clear.

From there, as Plum moves through the plot of the novel, she changes.

She goes from:
1. weak people-pleaser who chronically fails at changing her life (and fails, in fact, to even *live* her life)
2. angry rebellious petty thief
3. strong woman who finally stands up for herself.

What's interesting for me is that her eating habits mirror her psychological progression.

1. As a people-pleaser, she eats what she's "supposed" to eat: bland Waist Watchers foods that don't satisfy.

2. As an angry rule-breaker, she ranges from eating nothing at all to bingeing on sweets and other traditionally bad-for-you foods.

3. Once she's learned to stand up for herself, she begins to eat good, nourishing meals.

The final chapter opens up on Plum sitting down to a normal, healthy meal. You get the sense that, through all of this, Plum has overcome something. She's found her miracle diet, and it came from within for free, not from without for $40/month.

I see what you're saying, Julie, about wanting strong characters. We're in an era of Katnisses (and what a wonderful era it is), but there are still women who don't know how to be strong right off the bat, like Katniss is. For some women, it's a process. Characters like Plum show how to go from hating yourself and hating your body---to the point that you don't care enough about it to care for it properly---to loving yourself and wanting to defend yourself.

message 10: by Wendopolis (new)

Wendopolis | 77 comments This book was by turns powerful, thought provoking and offensive. I think it's a great commentary on society and the sexualization of women. I found it to be realistic and liked Plum overall as a protagonist. The naming of the terrorist group as Jennifer was a brilliant touch. :D I have both of my gourds a copy for Christmas, I think it's that important.

message 11: by Wendopolis (new)

Wendopolis | 77 comments I gave both of my girls a copy, is what that was supposed to say. I doubt gourds would get much out of the book.

message 12: by Jenn (new)

Jenn | 223 comments Mod
What did you think of the terrorist part? I see a lot of mixed reviews on Goodreads, with people liking the body acceptance part but thinking the Jennifer terrorist part ruined it.

message 13: by Wendopolis (new)

Wendopolis | 77 comments Without the terrorist part it would have been just an ordinary book about a fat girl. Although at first I wasn't sure it worked but it did.

message 14: by Jenn (last edited Jan 21, 2016 09:52AM) (new)

Jenn | 223 comments Mod
I loved the blind dates. I love, I freaking *love*, that Sarai Walker didn't set Plum up with anyone. When I discovered that blind dates were part of the plot, I rolled my eyes, because I was 98% certain Walker was going to make three of them assholes and one of them awesome. Plum was going to end up with the awesome guy and the moral of the story would be: Not every man out there is a looks-obsessed douche bag; you *can* find someone, if only you'll believe in yourself and the power of positive thinking!

But, no, Sarai Walker made all of the guys looks-obsessed assholes. Even the blind guy. There are plenty of men out there who appreciate fat women, don't get me wrong, but that's not the point. The point is, our lives don't have to revolve around finding a partner. And many guys in our culture *wouldn't* want to be seen with a 300-pound date. But our looks don't have to be about what men want. There are things to do in this world besides be conventionally pretty.

I love the tiny length of book space allotted to the final date. Like: This is how much time we should be spending on men like this. The end.

message 15: by Jess James (new)

Jess James | 22 comments I loved this book.This book spoke to me on an incredibly personal level, especially since Plum had my exact stats. I am 5' 8", and 300 lbs, and I got to be this weight by dieting.

Yes, you read that right.

The yo-yo of emotions mirrors the yo-yo of your weight when you're caught in a diet-lose weight-lose steam-gain back more weight cycle. I have been where Plum was. Of course, I decided that hating myself was a bummer and I made the conscious decision not to, but it took me a good solid five years of self loathing to come to the kind of self love and acceptance that Plum came to at the end of the novel (not to mention the fifteen years or so of thinking I'm sub-human simply because I didn't look like the girls in the magazines.)

The message of this novel was powerful, and I loved - LOVED - that it touched on women of all shapes, sizes, and maladies. The fact that Plum's friend was a burn victim, and suffered the same kind of social stigma just because she looks different, speaks volumes about our society.

I recommended this book to many of my friends and my mother as well, and my mom, who is about 100 pounds soaking wet, thought this book was a revelation. This book speaks to the core of what feminism is. It's perfect. Sarai Walker gets her point across so succinctly; the novel is captivating. I inhaled it - I'd never read anything like it. I cannot wait until she writes something else.

message 16: by Jenn (new)

Jenn | 223 comments Mod
It's been forever since we read this, but for anyone who's interested--they've made a mini-series of Dietland. It shows Mondays on AMC. You can also find episodes online.

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