Author: Julie Murphy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: September 15, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumpin’” 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 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.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have heard about Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’ if you’re even in the least bit plugged in to the YA book community. Avoiding this book has been nearly impossible. And it’s all for very good reasons.
Willow dean has never been ashamed of her body. She knows she’s big and she completely owns it. Will just doesn’t seem the point of being anything she’s not. And up until now, she’s been comfortable being who she is. When her job at a local fast food restaurant leads to meeting Bo, Will isn’t really surprised to start developing feelings for him. What surprises her is that her feelings don’t seem to be one sided. And that causes Will to question everything she’s ever thought about her body. Her solution to her doubts: enter the Clover City Miss Teen Blue Bonnet pageant ran by none other than her own beauty queen mother. And along the way, Willowdean will get more than she bargained for.
At this point, I feel like there’s very little I could say about Julie Murphy’s Dumpin’ that hasn’t already be said by someone else. And it’s pretty likely that it’s been said more eloquently than I’ll ever be able to say it. But I’ll give it a shot. Because there’s so much I could say about this book. All the hype and praise for Dumplin’ is absolutely warranted. This story just has so much going for it, and I loved all of it, and I’m not really sure where to start when it comes to talking about it. There’s the all-important message it give to girls about their bodies. There’s the different friendships. There’s the romance. There’s the love of Dolly Parton. There’s even drag queens. I mean, how can you not love a story that includes all of these things? In all seriousness, though, I can’t not talk about the message this book sends to girls (and everyone, really) about body image and self-love. It was so refreshing to read a story where the main character didn’t have a “perfect body” and attaining that “perfect body” wasn’t her goal. Instead, Dumplin’ was about accepting your body and showing that the way you look doesn’t define whether or not you are worthy of love. Or that because you look a certain way you can only be with someone who also looks that way. This story was just fantastic, and nothing i can say about it will ever come close to doing it justice.
What made the story in Dumplin’ so great was Willowdean herself. It’s not an exaggeration to say that this girl is unlike any other you’ll about in YA. Or at least it felt that way to me. I loved how confident Will was, but being confident doesn’t mean that you don’t have any insecurities. And Willowdean perfectly embodied this. Until Bo came along, she always believed she didn’t have any issues with her body and she didn’t care what other people thought. But when Bo came along, suddenly Will realized that maybe she cared a little about what other people thought of the way she looked. And Ioved seeing her work through her insecurities. And Bo, well I liked him a whole lot. I just wished I could have gotten to know him even more than I did. But what I did see of him, I loved. This brings me to the one thing about this story that I didn’t love: the sort of love triangle between Willowdean, Bo and Mitch. I really liked Mitch, and I fully believe he had a role to play in this story. I just didn’t really like how this totally nice guy ended up being hurt. So even though I really liked Mitch and thought he really could have been great for Willowdean (and even though she really belongs with Bo), I could have done without the love triangle.
Like pretty much everyone else who has read it, I loved Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’. It was a fantastic story with a much needed message and I can only hope that girls everywhere will want to read this book and embrace everything this book stands for.