Author: Julie Murphy
Publication Date: January 28th 2016
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
~A copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review~
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.
Where do I even start with Dumplin’? WHERE DO I START, HUH BOOK? HUH?! So I guess firstly I’ll start with, OH DEAR LORD, I WANT A BO. Please? I’m not above begging. At all. Nope. Secondly, I have a confession to make, I love Dolly Parton, okay? Thirdly, you can probably tell I loved Dumplin by the crazy, yes? Because I did, and it is so much more than what you might think it is.
And by that I meant, when I first read the synopsis I thought it was going to be about fat shaming and body shaming and in a way, it is, because it does have subtle highlights of it all the way through, in the way of how people body shame people and fat shame people, and how people tiptoe around you when you are. Ultimately, Dumplin’ is more about confidence in your own body, and being comfortable in your own skin and owning it, no matter what size you are, and being thin doesn't equal happiness and confidence, just like being fat doesn't mean you're unhappy and insecure. For Willowdean, she goes on more of a backwards down spiral. In the beginning, Willowdean is confident, well, she felt confident. She didn’t give a shit what people thought, she is who she is, and if you judge her by her weight, then she doesn’t need you in her life. She is happy. She is all that, but to a certain degree, because as soon as Bo takes a notice of her, and they start a not-so-relationship, that strong, doesn’t give a shit Willowdean starts cracking, because she doesn’t like him touching her body. And because she’s embarrassed, she doesn’t tell anyone about her and Bo, so she thinks it’s just her, and she second guesses herself, wondering what Bo see’s in her. He brings out those insecurities she didn’t think she had.
The thing is, though, because she doesn’t talk to anyone about it, she doesn’t think it’s normal, and it is. I mean, I don’t think there’s a person out there, whatever shape or size, is 100% happy with themselves. Whether that’s to do with weight, other parts of your body or mental health that makes you think otherwise. We’re more likely to see the flaws in ourselves than the good because we’re human, and it doesn’t help that society has a warped view of what’s beautiful and what’s not, and what’s “normal” and what’s not. And how if you’re one thing, then you’re not the other. So if you’re fat, you can’t be beautiful.
What I think Dumplin’ is standing for, is you’re not one thing or the other. You’re you. Plain and simple. And only you can determine what you are, you are beautiful no matter what your size is, and why should you change for anyone? And it’s learning to be comfortable in your own skin, it’s about learning to be confident in your body, and why can’t someone be fat and beautiful? But, the best thing about Dumplin’ is, the fat girl enters a beauty pageant, her she gets the guy and she doesn’t change, she doesn’t lose weight, she’s just Willowdean, she isn’t her weight, and she is a badass.
What's your favourite Dolly Parton song?
(Come on, we all have to have one! Besides Jolene and I Will Always Love You, I'm tied with Coat of Many Colours and Here You Come Again)