I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
Published by Balzer + Bray on September 15th 2015
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
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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.\r\nInstead 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.\r\nWith starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine— Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.\r\n
Gosh, what wasn’t to love about this book?! Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy is sweet, funny and, at times, very serious with its subject matter. I think all teenage girls should read this book. No, scratch that: I think all women should read this book.
Dolly Parton fanatic? Check.
Grieving a loved one? Check.
Willowdean Dickson is the unapologetic fat girl in a story where sometimes you never really knew you were lost until you need to find yourself. Dumplin’ deals with real world issues for girls who don’t quite conform to what society deems “beautiful” but you know what? She doesn’t really give a fuck about all that. She likes her Dolly Parton obsession (coincidentally shared with smoking hot BFF Ellen), she doesn’t care what you think of her in a swimsuit and she doesn’t give two hot shits about boys. Until she does. Reading Will meet and feel flutters for the hot jock Bo, while slinging fries and taking burger orders, is a sort of callback to our own youths when we felt those flutters for the first time. Where one would expect you to feel confident and sexy (because who doesn’t love when the person they like likes them back?), you actually begin to experience that self-doubt that can be so detrimental to your self esteem. So where Will starts out strong and in charge, she devolves into a quivering mess of emotions, including a lack of conviction of her own self-worth. To change all that, she decides she is going to join the local beauty pageant, which is – interestingly enough – run by her mother, a former winner who places great value on being “pretty”. Willowdean’s entire existence has been peppered by her mother’s desire to make her skinny and beautiful, complete with casually turning on TV programs like The Biggest Loser and reminding her she needs to shed some pounds. There relationship was imperfect, striking and complex. Dumplin’ is such a great story. Its themes explore how fat people are treated in our society and challenges the social moors of what is acceptable criteria to enter a beauty pageant. And it shows that true beauty comes from within.