Review: Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository
Release date: September 15th, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins)
Length: 384 pages
Source: ARC from BEA/e-ARC via Edelweiss
Rating: A thousand red lollipops
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.
Today is Dumplin's book birthday, and I couldn't be happier about it. I read this book in one day, in mostly one sitting, while on vacation in Belgium with a lot of people I love. So yeah, I could have been hanging out with my friends and talking to them...or i could have been hanging out with Willowdean and talking to her. I chose Willowdean. No regrets.
A lot of people have written really excellent reviews about Dumplin'sreally excellent messages about body positivity and loving yourself and confidence and friendship, and while that is all true and all part of the reason I loved this book, it's not the reason I picked up this book, nor was it the reason this book stole my heart. The truth of the matter is, I just loved Willowdean. She's a plus size Texas girl, she works at a fast food joint, she's hilarious, she's real, she's complicated, she's in love, she's confused, and I loved being in her head. She's got serious things going on, and she made me cry. She's helllla confused about why this SUPER CUTE BOY likes her, and her throught processes about everything were so natural and entertaining and heartbreaking and funny, all at once.
So yes, this book is all about accepting yourself and loving yourself and throwing on a Dolly wig and some high heels and faking it 'till you make it, baby. Stuff that every girl in the history of the world can relate to as the world tells us so many conflicting things about our bodies and what we can and can't do with it, and whose bodies are worth putting up on a pedestal and literally putting a crown atop. But again, I loved it because the story was engaging and funny, because Willowdean and Ellen have a fabulous friendship full of love but far from perfect, because the boy was supes adorbs, the Texas setting was gloriously realized, and the minor characters made me fall in love.
|in honor of "Peachbutt"|
I loved hanging out with Will at the fast food restaurant. I loved watching her set her mind to the pageant and conquer it. I felt for her when she stumbled, and when she was her own worst enemy, and when she battled against her mom, a size 2 ex-beauty queen who gives Will a hard time about her non-size 2 frame. Will's grief for her late aunt, a Dolly Parton fanatic who passed away at age 36 and 500 pounds, and her fears AND hopes that she's becoming her, made me cry. This book was a delight, basically, and I can't wait for it to become a movie. It makes me want to brush up on my Dolly Parton knowhow, because all I know is my most favorite quote in the world: "It costs a lot of money to look this cheap." *snaps for Dolly*
|All hail the Queen|
And snaps for Willowdean! And confetti and sparklers and cake and red lollipops!
Because the truth of the matter is, the heart of this book is gold. And I'm so glad this book exists for so many reason, all of which are beautifully told in Julie Murphy's tumblr post today, but the best thing about Dumplin' is that it's a great book. Not just because I absolutely love that this is a book about and for fat girls and all girls, not just because it speaks to so many things I've felt about myself too, but because...well, it's a great book to read. Plain and simple. With a side order of Dolly sass.
Bonus Dolly perfection because both she and the internet are a gift: