By Julie Murphy
Published on September 15, 2015
Published by: Balzer + Bray
Published by: Balzer + Bray
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 am thoroughly impressed! Dumplin was exactly what I thought it was going to be, but in some ways it was so much more. Julie Murphy knows what she is doing, and I really hope she does it again.... and soon!
Willowdean meets Bo. Up until Bo, Willowdean was always confident, no matter that she isn't a tiny thing like her best friend, Ellen. But when Bo touches her, something happens, and all of her confidence feels like it has dried right up. When she learns that Bo will be going to her school in the fall, everything falls apart for Willowdean.. and she decides she has to do something to fix it. So she signs up for the Clover City pageant, the same pageant her not-so-understanding mom heads up. From that point on, things change for Willowdean. She becomes a leader of sorts to the other girls who feel unworthy, who follow her lead and join the pageant too. Throughout the pageant, with Bo and Mitch, she grows up and learns so much about herself. She went from a character that I adored, to a character I looked up to, even as a 33 year old woman.
If there is one thing that Julie Murphy knows, it is characters. There isn't a character in this book that I didn't want to see more of. None of them were thrown in just to have them there. They each had a purpose, and a personality, all their own. Willowdean, smart and sassy. Her best friend, Ellen. Bo and Mitch, the love interests. Millie, Amanda and Hannah... I loved them all. Even Willow's mom, who played such an important part.
One more thing that I want to mention... I loved the ending of this book. I love that the focus wasn't on the winner of the pageant. We never even learn who it was. The focus was on feeling good in your own skin, no matter your size or color. Be who you are, LOVE who you are, and if someone is worth their salt they will love you for the exact same reasons. Man, the feels!
There isn't a whole lot more that I can really say about this book. It isn't because it wasn't great, because it was, or that it wasn't full of things that I could talk about. It is because I can't really put into words the feelings that I felt while reading it. Go read Dumplin'. Not just the teens, either. Everyone read it, because whether 16 or 33 or 56, we all struggle with being comfortable and confident in our own skins. We all days or weeks or months or years where we just don't feel good enough. Julie Murphy has written a great reminder that we are awesome, all of us, no matter what!