[ Book Review ] When Hunger is Holy

Thinner Than Thou by Kit Reed


If your body is a temple, it stands to reason that keeping fit is an act of holiness, right?

In the America of Thinner Than Thou, by Kit Reed, the attainment of the perfect body has supplanted religion. People “repent” for overeating at health clubs, an order of nuns works to convert both the anorexic and the obese to the lean-but-fit ideal, and fitness guru meets evangelical preacher in the character of Reverend Earl, a national celebrity/savior.

The story follows Annie (anorexic) and Kelly (morbidly obese), friends who fall under the care of the Dedicated Sisters, and Jeremy (chubby and, unforgivable, aging), a middle-aged man who’s spent his life savings to train under the guidance of Reverend Earl himself in the weight-loss paradise of Sylphania. Of course, all three soon find that nothing is what it seems. Forced feeding, starvation, and sinister agendas abound, and what they learn about Reverend Earl’s dark secret could endanger all of their lives.

This adult dystopian novel sets a great tone—the author clearly enjoys playing with the ramifications of fitness making the leap from national obsession to religion, and the fun comes through. The tongue-in-cheek tone also keeps the world, which is admittedly cheesy in places, from annoying the reader.

The characters are the ones who are real against the false backdrop of the world they live in. Their emotional arcs are handled sensitively. Reverend Earl, the charismatic-leader-with-a-secret, isn’t as developed, but he is fun to hate and easy to imagine for anyone who’s ever gotten suspicious of an overeager trainer.

We’re coming up on bikini season and beach reads. As you put your lazy summer reading list together, check out this exciting dystopia thriller and its witty spin on our “Biggest Loser” culture.


What’s on your summer reading list?

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