Ada's Rules, Alice Randall, Bloomsbury USA, 2012, 334 pp
Any woman who has ever been on a diet would enjoy this book. Ada Howard is a large 220 lb black woman, wife of a preacher at a Nashville church. She carries more weight than her own pounds, running a daycare center, caring for her aging parents, keeping track of her grown daughters, and serving on numerous church committees.
When the sexual side of her marriage to the reverend has dwindled to zero, an invitation to her college reunion brings back memories of Ada's first love, who will be there. She resolves to lose 100 pounds, go to the reunion, and if possible cheat on her husband! It's a big deal because Ada takes her Christianity and its commandments seriously.
I am a rabid fan of Alice Randall's two earlier novels, The Wind Done Gone and Rebel Yell. They were written in a more literary style and in my opinion she is at her best being literary. Ada's Rules is more along the lines of How Stella Got Her Groove Back; a sort of lightweight and light-hearted shout out to women of color and their strengths.
But still, this is Alice Randall who never writes without an issue or two up her sleeve. Here it is the health problems that accompany obesity, especially diabetes, and the eating habits as well as the "food deserts" that plague black populations in America.
I am a white woman who tends to pudge, hence a serial dieter since I turned 30. Alice Randall has also struggled with her weight. The introductory chapter in Ada's Rules is entitled How To Us My, Ada Howard's, Novel As A Diet Book. As far as I know, that's not been done before, and it works: a diet manual that is also a novel.
I couldn't put it down and I felt for Ada as she drank her water, walked her 30 minutes, and watched her portions, but also as she not only transformed her body but found her true self underneath all that fat. I have never come across a more realistic and sensible book about dieting (which is just another name for eating properly.)
If you are naturally slim with a high metabolism you are forbidden to read it!
(Ada's Rules is available in hardcover and Google eBook by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)