Cheat Day by Liv Stratman (320 pages)
An Extreme Diet Leads to an Unexpected Affair in Cheat Day
Kit, a 34-year-old woman from Brooklyn, is a notorious dieter. She lives with her husband in her childhood home, and manages Sweet Cheeks Bakery owned by her sister and their cousin. She is constantly searching for the perfect diet regimen that will finally bring her contentment. She lands on the Radiant Regimen, a 75 day program that will surely get her to where she wants to be. Shortly after, she meets Matt at the bakery, a handsome carpenter hired to build shelves. Unable to tame their attraction for one another, they begin having an affair. The deeper she finds herself in this conundrum, the harder Kit pushes herself to complete the regimen. What she does not expect is where this combination of dieting and adultery leads her to.
The Result of Perpetual Hunger Is Not Always What You Expect
For as long as dieting has been around, deprivation and over indulgence have been two sides of the same coin. What is interesting in this novel is how that concept is applied to more than just food and yo-yo dieting. Kit has been feeling an absence in her marriage, lack of fulfillment with her work, and an emptiness in her social life. So when Matt comes along, she “overindulges” on him—figuratively.
While her life is seemingly perfect from the outside looking in (good job, good husband, good home), she never did truly know which direction she was headed with anything. As a result she embarks on this affair. It seemed like just the thing to fill that void, hoping for some excitement along the way. . Soon, she finds out that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
While Kit may not be a likeable character, she becomes more self aware as the story progresses. She takes the time to reflect on who she once was and where her life is headed. Stratman does a great job of developing this character at a gradual pace while also respecting the flawed, dissatisfied nature of people.
The Bottom Line: 3.5/5 Brookie Stars
Cheat Day is a refreshing contemporary novel, and not because of the subject matter—far from it. Don’t be fooled by the pretty pastel colours on the cover thinking this is a fluffy chick-lit about a diet and an affair. Kit is like many dissatisfied adults who don’t understand the root cause of their sadness because they have never dug deep down to find out why. I enjoyed this novel because there are multiple thought provoking events that occurred. It is a great conversation starter on the impacts of food culture and the psychology behind contentment. Food and body dysmorphia play a major part in this novel and I would caution readers who are sensitive to that subject.
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Maiya Alismaili is a 34 year old bookacholic who currently resides in Ottawa. With a background in Human Resources and Psychology, you will often find her people watching. When she doesn’t have her nose in a book, she will likely be exploring the town for new bookstores, rewatching Gilmore Girls, or cleaning to 80s music.
Favorite Book: A Fine Balance By Rohinton Mistry
Favorite Brunch Spot: Cafe Cristal