Author: Julie Murphy
Publication Date: September 15, 2015
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
I received a copy of this book for free via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Thanks to the publisher, Balzer + Bray.
Willowdean is your average teenage girl, but with the confidence that will knock your socks off. Yes, she still has insecurities, but she loves herself despite that. Willow is fat. She knows it, everyone else knows it, but she isn’t ashamed about her weight. When she discovers a Miss Blue Bonnet Pageant form in her late aunt’s dresser drawer, she decides to enter. In Willow’s town, the pageant is a huge deal. Most girls spend their whole lives dreaming of this pageant. What was once a pageant in honor of Willow’s aunt has turned into something that Willow must not only do for herself, but for girls like her everywhere. To the girls who aren’t up to society’s “standards,” but are happy anyways.
Willowdean has always been fine with her body. Her confidence begins to falter when a very handsome boy, who just so happens to have a crush on, shows interest in her. How on Earth could a boy like Bo like someone like Willow? Even after their ups and downs, Willow pushes Bo away. All because she fears what others will think if they saw them together. On top of this, Willow is in a fight with her best friend, Ellen, which leaves her with no one to talk to.
While the relationship problems between Bo and Willow and the drama between Ellen and Willow seem petty to me, it made sense. These kids are all in high school and they are portrayed flawlessly. This is high school. The ups and downs, the drama, the relationships, the insecurities, and doubts are all high school. While some may have some problems with the way the events in story unfold, I think Murphy did a fantastic and a very realistic job of portraying high school.
I strongly connected with this story, as I struggle with my body image every day. Some days I’m happy with my body, while other days I don’t want to look in the mirror. I have definitely learned over the last year that happy and healthy is so much more than “skinny.” Size does not determine your level of happiness. You must learn to love yourself on the inside before you love yourself on the outside. This book only confirmed all of that.
Dumplin’ is a story of learning to love oneself and finding what you are truly made of. Do yourself a favor and read this book today.
4 out of 5 stars
Meet The Author
Julie Murphy is a potty-mouthed Southern belle who was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, but found her home in Fort Worth, Texas. She’s never seen Star Wars, but has yet to meet a made for TV movie she didn’t love. When she’s not writing, Julie can be found cruising Costco for free samples, watching Sister Act 2, stalking drag queens on instagram, obsessing over the logistics of Mars One, and forever searching for the perfect slice of cheese pizza. She lives with her bearded husband, two vicious cats, and one pomeranian that can pass as a bear cub. Dumplin’ is her second young adult novel.