DUMPLIN’ BY JULIE MURPHY
Sixteen-year-old Dolly Parton-loving Willowdean doesn’t usually struggle with her identity and self-confidence as a fat girl in a her small Texas town, where her mother leads the local pageant scene, until hot former jock Bo kisses her. In this novel, Murphy takes her time letting Willowdean explore her feelings about a variety of situations relating to friendship, jealousy, sexual attraction, drag queens, her obese aunt’s death, her relationship with her mother, and her own self-worth.
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy follows a sixteen-year old girl named Willowdean, who lives in a small town in Texas and has, for most of her life, struggled with her weight. This reality isn’t improved by the fact that her mother is a former beauty pageant queen, and runs an annual pageant in Willowdean’s hometown. Add a growing relationship with her coworker Bo combined with the constant struggle to feel comfortable in her own skin, and Willowdean’s life has suddenly gotten very complicated.
I LOVED this book. There’s no other way to put it; I started the novel the very night I purchased it and had finished it by the next morning. I could not put it down! Every chapter left me flipping more pages.
The characters in Dumplin’ were hilarious and completely relatable – I loved Willowdean’s sarcastic sense of humor and resilience through everything life threw at her, and I thought her struggle to feel comfortable in her own skin was one many teenaged girls can relate to. I also loved Bo’s character, and especially the banter between him and Willowdean. Their two personalities complemented each other perfectly, and I never got tired of reading about their relationship.
The storyline of Dumplin’ was fast-paced, but also stopped at key moments to really develop Willowdean’s character, and explore different messages. While the book wasn’t a difficult read, per say, I still found myself thinking at every chapter, and gained a new perspective on what it means to be confident and have self-worth.
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.
I think one of my favorite things about this novel was that it was able to explore a variety of themes without anything feeling cliche; Willowdean’s thoughts were original, as was her outlook throughout the storyline.
I have absolutely no complaints about this novel; I loved every second of reading it! Five out of five stars!