Summary: 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. [Goodreads]
I just bought this book three hours ago, and I can honestly say that it was worth all the stress of deciding between two books (but don’t tell my mom that). Another moment of honesty: I loved this book. I mean, who doesn’t love a story about learning to love yourself, accepting your flaws, and friendship? Sure, you may not be able to relate to a girl nicknamed ‘Dumplin’ who wants to enter a beauty pageant, but we’ve all felt insecure, and that probably won’t stop any time soon. But, it is possible to learn to love yourself and allow yourself to be happy, and I think that’s one of the most important lessons that this book can teach you.
My favorite part about Dumplin’ was the characters. Of course. Willowdean is inspiring, but she’s also deeply flawed (like everyone). She makes huge, stupid mistakes. She knees rude and insensitive boys in the groin when they insult her. She fights with her mom, her best friend, the guy she likes. But she’s also kind, loving, sarcastic, and wonderful. Her best friend, Ellen, isn’t present through most of the books plot, but their friendship is the kind we all wish for ourselves: someone who we can joke around with who will also help us with the meaningful stuff, someone who we can leave for a while but always come back to. It doesn’t matter that there’s a love triangle because Ellen and Willowdean are the two you’re truly rooting for. Speaking of the love triangle, however, I’m going to move on to Bo, the main love interest. I liked Bo. He wasn’t a stand-out love interest, but he didn’t disgust me, so I guess it could have been worse. I just wish we could’ve gotten more out of him, considering he was either being standoffish and distant or telling Willowdean that they should be together. That being said, I’m glad the author didn’t put too much of the focus on him. The story was about Willowdean, and the focus stayed where it should have, on her.
Plot-wise, the story was pretty solid. The competition was really fun to read about, and all of the scenes with Will and her mom were the kind that are so realistic and heartbreaking you can feel yourself cringe. What I really loved about it was realizing that these characters are only a year older than me, and they are making these changes and learning to love themselves even when everyone around them is only focusing on the flaws of others. It’s a really empowering story to read, and I would completely recommend this book to anyone and everyone.
Rating: 4.5 stars
Favorite Quote: “But Mondays and Fridays were just twenty-four-hour stretches of time with different names.”