Dumplin’ – Julie Murphy

Synopsis

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.

Review

Hmm, this book was interesting. The small town, middle-of-nowhere pageant-crazed world feels like a universe away from my own experiences. Do people really live like this?

In all honesty, Willowdean was her own worst enemy (shoutout @ LIT). I find it hard to understand her constant insecurities when she receives so much validation. Where I’m from, no means no. I don’t know anyone that would keep on waiting for someone like that, much less two people.

I didn’t feel invested in a lot of the characters because I didn’t know much about them aside from their physical appearance. What are they good at? What makes them tick? Why should I want Ellen and Willow to be friends?

My issue with this book was that no one GREW. At the beginning of the book, there were times that Willowdean was comfortable in her own skin, and times that she wasn’t. This didn’t change as time wore on. I don’t think Willowdean’s mother should be demonized for wanting her daughter to lose weight (even though her own priorities were messed up and borderline obsessive). But obesity IS a problem, just like anorexia is a problem. Health is important, and the consequences can literally be life and death. After learning this first hand, shouldn’t Willowdean CARE more?

I did somehow cry at the end though. So there’s that.

Related Reading

  • 45 Pounds (More or Less) – K.A. Barson
  • The Real Prom Queens of Westfield High – Laurie Boyle Crompton
  • Keeping the Moon – Sarah Dessen
  • Just Listen – Sarah Dessen

Rating: 4/5

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