This book was read by Courtney Bippley and Meredith Lewis.
Author: Sarai Walker
Summary: 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.
Why did you choose to read this book?
Meredith: I think I read a review of it? I’m often interested in books that explore themes surrounding how society and women view their own bodies as a part of and as an obstacle in the world.
What did you like about it?
C: I liked a lot of the themes of the book. It has a very feminist bent to it and I enjoyed reading about a character discovering a different way of looking at the world, and herself.
M: As a non-Jennifer in a sea of Jennifers in elementary school especially, I kind of loved that the vigilante lady group was called Jennifer.
What feeling did the book leave you with?
C: When I finished the book I felt like I wanted more from it. There were a lot of supporting characters that I was interesting in and who could have had their own stories told. If a sequel came out (there isn’t one as far as I know) I would definitely pick it up.
M: It made me think about how powerful society’s expectations can be on our own sense of self and what we think we deserve (and tolerate) based on that. Other stuff, too. I thought this was a great book, but (and?) it left me thinking about a lot of things.
Who would you recommend the book to?
C: Anyone who is interested in exploring feminist ideas but is not interested in reading nonfiction essays and wants something a little juicier.
M: Someone who doesn’t mind a book about women behaving “badly” (both by societal and, uh, legal standards) and maybe someone who is identifying with the feelings behind the current #metoo movement.
What would you pair this book with?
C: I would pair this book with a plate of chocolate oatmeal cookies to be eaten while driving an M113 armored personnel vehicle. Like you do.
M: I’d pair it with Roxane Gay’s Hunger. Similar themes, different genres.