on September 15, 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Source: For Review
I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!
Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”
Willowdean has always been the fat girl and she’s always been pretty okay with that despite the normal teenage insecurities. It’s never been a THING for her. Until she gets a job and crushes on one of her hot co-workers who totally ends up liking her back. And then insecurities and what people think get the best of Willowdean and makes her second guess herself and if Bo could really like her. So she decides to remind herself of how confident she is and enters a beauty pageant (that her mother is the coordinator of) — an act that sparks a little bit of a revolution when a couple of other girls, who are inspired by Willowdean’s bravery, to join with her despite them not looking like the usual beauty pageant contestant.
This is definitely one of my most favorite books of 2015 and I want everyone to meet Willowdean! She’s definitely one of those characters you want to wish into existence so that you could be friends with her. There are a whole lot of adjectives I could use to describe her but really you just need to meet her. And the best thing about this book? As much as she is this dazzling star of this novel, she has so many other supporting characters in this book that shine equally as much in different ways. It’s just packed with amazing characters — especially females. I loved the girls who do the beauty pageant with Willowdean and I love how they all learn from each other and find friends they didn’t know they needed in their life. One of my FAVORITE scenes involves these ladies and some Dolly Parton awesomeness.
Sometimes it feels as if it’s hard to find body diversity within YA. It’s rare when I come across a ~fat~ main character and even more rare when that book isn’t solely about that person’s struggle with their weight or is trying to lose weight. Those are super important stories. Stories that need to be heard. But it’s really hard to find a fat main character who is fairly confident about being fat/isn’t really looking to change themselves or at least is no more insecure about being fat than about other things we as ladies get insecure about — which is also important and is a voice that needs to be heard. And the one thing about Willowdean in Dumplin’ is that she’s pretty okay in her skin and her being fat isn’t the biggest deal to her. She’s confident yet, like most girls, still has her insecurities and self consciousness that comes with being a teenager. She doesn’t really have a problem being the fat girl (aside from the crap from other people about it). Being fat is just a part of who she is — just a piece of her. Until she gets a boyfriend. A guy she thinks people will perceive is too good for her based on looks alone. And then nagging insecurities come full force and mess with her head threatening to break that confidence.
It is so, so relatable whether or your ~thing~ is your weight or a stutter or a flat chest (hello, me…I’m almost 30 weren’t my boobs supposed to show up by now lols) or a big nose or whatever. We see this vulnerability within Willowdean that shows just how hard it is to be confident of the things you love about yourself when the world makes it so easy to let those self-conscious feelings or insecurities attach themselves to you like a leech that just sucks your confidence blood supply dry and possibly make you feel like you need to CHANGE (because people say you should) or loathe yourself. And I loved how the beauty pageant was her way of proving to herself and others that you don’t have to be a certain way to deserve to be on the stage of a beauty pageant, to deserve love, to deserve to feel beautiful, etc. etc.
God it was just such a great coming of age story that seamlessly delved into so many things in addition to the body positivity and self-acceptance. Willowdean is dealing with the first real loss of her life — her aunt who meant a lot to her and was someone she was closest to. I loved how Julie Murphy portrays a lot of common teen experiences — crushing on someone, falling in love, heartbreaks, shifting best friend dynamics, feeling like your mom just doesn’t GET you etc. It’s just such a delightful and REAL story with strong messages that never feel like they are hitting you over the head. Just straight up REAL TALK through the plot and dialogue that is thought-provoking and I still have a few passages that have stuck with me.
contemporary YA/realistic fiction fans, readers looking for body diversity & body positivity, readers who want a book that brings the lols and the sentimental feels, readers looking for strong female friendships
Dumplin’ was just an altogether delightful read that made me laugh out loud at times and put my hand to my heart and sigh. I enjoyed the ~message~ about loving your body and recognizing how worthy you are of love and feeling beautiful and other good things — no matter what your body looks like. I loved Willowdean and think she’s truly something special!
* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
I’m really looking for more books with diversity when it comes to body type! Any suggestions?