Dumplin' Published by Balzer & Bray
Published on September 15, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
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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.
Dumplin’ has received quite a bit of hype leading up to it’s September 15th release. So I had had expectations going into this book. I know my 3.5 star rating may lead you to believe that I didn’t have my expectations met, but I really enjoyed this book, so hear me out.
The word fat makes people uncomfortable. But when you see me, the first thing you notice is my body. And my body is fat. It’s like how I notice some girls have big boobs or shiny hair or knobby knees. Those things are okay to say. But the word fat, the one that best describes me, makes lips frown and cheeks lose their color.
Willowdean, or Will, or Dumplin’- whichever you prefer to call her- is, for the most part, completely comfortable in her own skin. She is a self aware fat girl, and has no desire to change a thing about herself. And I think that is awesome. I have a really hard time being comfortable in my own skin, during high school when I was so skinny I looked sick all the way into adulthood, where I am basically just a normal size for my age and weight. I am not what would be considered fat, but I still struggle with accepting myself the way I am. If only we could all be like Will. But even Will ran into some moments that made her suddenly aware of her body, and she was left feeling no so confident. My favorite thing about Will was actually her sense of humor. I like humor when I read, so I really enjoyed that.
This book does have quite a few things going for it. It speaks loudly about being confident and accepting your body the way it is. I think, especially for teenagers, this is very important in today’s fat shaming world. But while trying so hard to make sure this was the focus of the book, it failed to really mention the downside to being overweight. Yes, someone close to Will struggled with their health due to their weight. But that is about all the mention it gets. Sometimes, you can’t help the weight gain or size. It is just the way your body is, or you may have a health issue that is related to it. However, no one really mention how sometimes allowing yourself to continue down this path can cause health problems in the future. So while I think everyone should love the skin they are in (I am desperately trying to do this myself) I also think they should have focused on the more serious issues than just the possibility of getting called names or not getting a boyfriend.
On another note, this book did not shame any of the characters for making out or having sex. When sex was brought up, there was never a bad feeling brought with it. Lets face it, teenagers are going to have sex, and just like with being overweight, some get shamed for it. If this is a choice they make and they feel comfortable and use protection, then that is their decision and it is no ones place (except maybe the parents) to make them feel about about their choices.
This book also highlights the importance of a strong female friendship. There are bumps in the road, but true friends just go along for the ride. I enjoyed the friendship these girls shared. Speaking of females, I do not like the relationship she had with her mom. I also just didn’t like her mom. I won’t go int detail here, but I just did not enjoy that.
Then there is the romance side of the book. I’m not sure I have found the words to exactly describe how I feel about this whole thing. There are two potential love interests, Bo and Mitch. Both athletic, good looking guys. Especially Bo. He is the regular YA hottie/athlete/brooding/misunderstood guy. He happens to have his eye on Will. So does Mitch. So here is our completely unnecessary love triangle. I don’t know if the author was trying to prove that big girls can get hot guys too or what, but even in a book without a “fat” protagonist a love triangle is annoying and unnecessary, and it was no different for this book. Seriously.
At moments, I was really aggravated by Will and her choices. She seemed to get upset over pointless things, and blow things out of proportion. I just didn’t connect with her, or any of the characters, really, the way I had hoped too.
Now that I have rambled on and on, let me wrap things up. Overall, the book was enjoyable. It was definitely fun to read, and I loved it’s bits of southern charm and I adored all of the Dolly Parton!! I love that this book preaches confidence and acceptance, I just wish some issues had been faced differently. If you enjoy YA contemporaries and want to experience a unique voice, pick this up!
I guess sometimes the perfection we perceive in others is made up of a whole bunch of tiny imperfections, because some days the damn dress just won’t zip.