Publication Date: September 15, 2015
Pages: 375 pages
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
There was so much to love about Dumplin’. This book is written for all girls who struggle with their body image and confidence. Willowdean is overweight and acts like she doesn’t care. But deep down, she struggles with the societal pressure to be thin. Students judge and tease her for her weight. I love the relationship between Willowdean and her mother. It is by no means a healthy one – but it is real. Her mother, a former beauty queen and still in charge of the local pageant, is constantly in search of the latest fad diet for Willowdean and refuses to stop calling her Dumplin’. It devastates her that her own daughter can’t lose the weight she needs to in order to be thin.
I also love the changes in Willowdean’s friendship with Ellen, a beauty queen in her own right. Once best friends for life, Willowdean starts to feel Ellen growing away from her. She is jealous of El’s boyfriend and doesn’t like the new friends Ellen meets at work. This reminded me of when I was back in high school and there were times when my best friends and I drifted apart and then found our way back together.
Even though there is some skepticism about if Bo would really choose to be seen with her in the real world, I really cheered for the two of them to get together in the end of the book. Bo annoyed me early on, because I never understood his intentions with Willowdean, kissing her behind a fast food restaurant. I felt like he was attracted, but was embarrassed because she didn’t fit the mold of what his girlfriend should look like. When Willowdean allowed him to continue “hiding” her, I wanted her to stand up for herself and say something to him. But then I realized that from her perspective, she finally has a boy interested in her and she doesn’t want to lose that.
Looking back I think what I loved the most is the girl power that this novel portrays. Dumplin’ gives teens hope that it doesn’t matter what your size, you CAN do whatever you want to do with your life. I think there are a lot of girls who will connect with this story and I can’t wait to book talk this one come August when I am back in school again!