By Heather A.
4 out of 5 stars ★★★★☆
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’ deserves the hype it received when it was released last year. Willowdean “Dumplin'” Dickerson is a hero, even reluctantly. It’s not until the middle of the novel that the plot starts revolving around the beauty pageant, but I didn’t have a problem with it because I liked being in Willodean’s world.
The most admirable quality about this character was that she rarely apologized for things that were out of her control. The front door doesn’t work? Doesn’t matter, just go around back. She’s overweight and works at a fast food stand, so what? She’s still making money. She’s aware of her situation, but she doesn’t let that stand in the way from living her life. She hangs out with her best friend Ellen, makes out with her hot co-worker, has another potential love interest on the side, has high school rivals, deals with anxiety, makes bold statements, and is generally an awesome teenager. She also cares about other people who are not as confident as her or who are more likely to be targets for bullies.
If the character I just described doesn’t sound like someone you want to be friends with, I beg you to reevaluate your life. She’s awesome. And in addition to all these things I’ve mentioned, she’s also complex, dynamic, and well-rounded. She’s dealing with the death of her aunt, who was like a second mother, she’s dealing with her overbearing, fat-shaming mother, she is navigating high school and dealing with the loss of her best friend to another friend. Her thoughts are all over the place. She makes the best choices for herself at the time and is able to handle set backs with grace. I am truly inspired by this character and I hope that any other young women who read this book are too.
Not much more to say. It’s a quick read and is certainly a book that’s worth adding to your TBR.