Published by Balzer + Bray on September 15th 2015
Genres: Adolescence, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Social Issues, Young Adult
Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . . until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.
Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.
With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine— Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.
Willowdean (her mom calls her Dumplin, friends call her Will) is a self-described fat girl in a small Texas town best known that is best known for a beauty pageant. Will has never lacked for confidence, but the attentions of a gorgeous jock leave her second-guessing herself. Can she get her mojo back?
Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’ is a really fun and empowering read. Willowdean is a body positive role model who doesn’t need to change for anyone. Her mother runs the big-deal beauty pageant and prides herself on fitting into her own pageant gown so many years later. She thinks Willowdean should lose the weight, but Willowdean is happy in her own skin.
Will’s never wanted to be a beauty queen before, but drama in her life makes her think why not? When she enters Clover City’s Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant, she inspires other unconventional aspiring beauty queens to try their hand at the crown as well.
But coming up with a beauty pageant talent and gown isn’t the only thing on Will’s mind. Her coworker Bo at the fast food joint seems to have feelings for her but keeps their makeout sessions on the down low. Does he really like her and what would it be like to walk with him down the halls? Another guy at school, footballer Mitch, wants to take her to dances and show her off. Will’s life is starting to mirror the Dolly Parton songs she loves so much.
Another blow to Will’s confidence is that she’s having friendship drama with her BFF Ellen, and her beloved Aunt Lucy recently passed away. She’s being the leading lady for the first time and isn’t able to gab about it with her confidantes. But she is also a role model for the other new beauty pageant participants and that opens her eyes to new friends and experiences.
This thought-provoking, girl power book was a joy to read and I rooted for Willowdean all the way. I’m happy that we will get to see a movie version of Dumplin’ on the big screen someday!
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