Dumplin’, Julie Murphy
Expected publication: September 15th 2015 by Balzer + Bray
Hardcover, 384 pages
Source: e-ARC from Edelweiss
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.
Let me just put this simply – this is a HAPPY book. If you like to be happy you should read it. If you don’t like to be happy, well then I can’t help you.
Willowdean was overall a delight to read. She’s well aware of what her body looks like, but she’s happy with herself. She has a great best friend, a mom who she is mostly on good terms with, a car named Jolene and her job as a cashier. I loved her innocent crush on her new co-worker Bo and her initial joy at an unexpected romance. I was so sad as she remembered her aunt Lucy and the life Lucy was afraid to live because of her weight. My heart hurt for Willowdean as she became less empowered and felt like less of herself because of her relationship Bo.
Willowdean isn’t a perfect girl by any means. She’s mean to her mom and gets into a stupid fight with her best friend because she can’t admit she’s wrong – but she’s trying so hard to find her way back to being herself you have to root for her. So even when I wasn’t finding her delightful Willowdean felt so real to me. I loved being inside her head.
I’ll be honest and say I was kind of dreading the pageant portion of the book because I was sure Willowdean and her friends were in for some serious mocking. I was so glad to be wrong – she kicked ass. Even when she knows she isn’t taking pageant life seriously she is still kicking ass at being Willowdean and I loved her. I want to force this book into the hands of teenage girls and all the women I know because it was just a happy book with a fantastically empowering message.
“She was born for this, There’s a beauty queen inside that cute, little fat girl.”
“A slow satisfied smile melts across my face. ‘No,’ I say ‘That cute, little fat girl is a beauty queen.’”
Thank you Balzer + Bray and Edelweiss for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion!