Author(s): Julie Murphy
Edition: Hardcover, 375 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (Imprint of HarperCollins)
Publication Date: September 15, 2015
Source: Bought from Amazon
Buy: Amazon - Barnes & Noble - Book Depository
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.
Willowdean (Wil to her friends) is fantastic. She is the heart of the book. Wil is tough, but loving, and her obsession with Dolly Parton is the best thing ever; Wil is definitely a Texan through and through. She also makes mistakes, and owns up to them. Her characterization shows all facets of what a girl her size feels and expresses, because let's be real, while this book can be relatable to all girls in one way or another, this books sings to the big girls out there.
Wil is comfortable with herself, but sometimes when faced with situations on which society has placed certain "standards of beauty", Wil faces doubt and a tiny bit of hate within herself. This is so relatable for girls, especially in modern society. How many beauty ads/weight loss ads/you're not good enough ads do teen girls get exposed to nowadays? It can be a struggle to be comfortable within your own skin instead of all seeing the "flaws". This was definitely something I struggled with, and still struggle with even though I'm 27! I think the way that Murphy executed this within the book, not just from Wil's perspective, but showing little glimpses of other women/girls within the story dealing with issues that conflict or embrace society's expectations of beauty is skillful.
All the supporting characters were also full of personality. Ellen, the best friend; Bo, the maybe-not-really-what's-going-on "boyfriend"; Millie/Amanda/Hannah, the trio of "misfits"; Mitch, the other maybe-not-really-what's-going-on "boyfriend" all of layers to them. Some you get to see a little more than others, but I didn't think any of them were a cookie cutter character. I really loved each one for different reasons, and felt like these were all people I could find in a small town in Texas. Mille, Amanda, and Hannah were probably my second favorites out of all of the characters behind Wil. The strength and conviction of character all three have, especially Millie, was so great. True friends are hard to find, so when you find them, you really need to keep them.
Exploring loss, body confidence, and relationships, both familiar and romantic, Murphy is able to create a story that feels real, and is not about the "fat" girl sliming down to get the guy, which, let's be honest, a lot of YA books with a larger protagonist often do. Wil faces new and sometimes uncomfortable situations, but she finds her way through on no one's terms but her own. I loved this book so much, and I think it is one which every person needs on their shelf! Remember, in the words of Dumplin' herself, if you got it, flaunt it! Go pick up a copy of Dumplin' by Julie Murphy TODAY!!
(Psst there's a giveaway below!)
Book Cover: 5/5
Book Title: 5/5
Overall: 49/50: A+