I received this book in an OwlCrate box a long time ago, but I just stuck it on my shelf and there it sat… Until now, of course! The author will be in my town the first week of June, so I’m doing the thing where I try to read all their books so I can get them signed sort of things. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this? XD)
Title: Dumplin’ (Dumplin’ #1)
Author: Julie Murphy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release date: September 15, 2015
Genre: Young adult, contemporary, romance
Length: 384 pages (US hardcover)
Synopsis: (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.”
This book was cute. I say that but I should clarify: Willowdean and Bo were cute together. Everything else was equally lovely too, though! I love that this is simply a (fat) girl being who she is–embracing who she is and empowering other girls like her to do the same. There were, of course, some irritating times but most of those stemmed from her mother’s attitude towards her own daughter’s body, and while there were, as there always seem to be, crappy people who made fun of Willowdean, she didn’t let it that drag her down. She is unapologetically who she is and does not regret or apologize for it. I think we need more characters like her.
I loved what eventually became her tight-knit group of friends. Even though she and Ellen struggle through certain things, what friendships don’t? I’m glad things worked out the way they did, and that Willowdean gained new friends as well.
I also found myself smiling like a maniac when she and Bo interacted. They’re just too adorable! Bo is the strong and silent type, but it’s almost as if he lights up when he’s with Will, and it’s wonderful to read it. He wants her, and while Will struggles with that through various chapters in the book, Bo makes his intentions known and, like Will in some aspects, doesn’t apologize for it. He doesn’t have anything to be ashamed of, and good! because he shouldn’t.
Something else I also enjoyed tied in with everything that was fairly Texas. I lived there for a year when I was a teenager, so while I’m not an expert, I got some of the references, especially those homecoming pins/mums that are put on around that season! I mean, why are they so large? lol And if it’s your birthday, I think you have a special birthday one which people pin money onto! (Someone correct me if I’m wrong!)
In terms of writing style, it’s very simple. Willow is 15, and Murphy does a fantastic job with her character’s voice and believability. I think I’ll come back to this book in the future (especially since there’s a sequel).
Check out Kourtni’s review of this book, where she dives a bit into what the book means to her. Give her a follow, too! She’s pretty rad! 😉