“I think maybe it’s the things we don’t want to talk about that are the things people most want to hear.”
Willowdean Dickson is many things. She’s a girl for one. She’s from South Texas. She works in a fast food joint called Harpy’s with an absolute dreamboat of a boy. She and her best friend Ellen are probably the biggest teenage fans of Miss Dolly Parton. She’s absolutely wise beyond her years, and she’s fat. As Willow says, “it’s not a cuss word. It’s not an insult. At least not when I say it.”
Willow starts her summer off just as she planned. She’s going to go to the pool with Ellen every day, and rock that swimwear no matter what looks people give her, and she’s going to avoid her mother while she prepares for the big old Miss Clover City pageant that turns their small town into a circus every year. All of that changes the moment Bo, her handsome coworker kisses her late one night after work. Along with the changes to her friendship with Ellen, who has always been her backbone, Willow is facing a serious crisis. Suddenly, as summer comes to a close and the school year starts up again, the uber-confident Willow is hearing doubts in her head that she’s long been able to suppress.
In order to take back her life, and pay homage to her late aunt, Willow decides to do the unthinkable in her small town. She enters the Clover City pageant, intending to prove there is more than one definition of beauty. What Willow doesn’t expect is the reaction of some of her peers. Girls who have always been treated as “outsiders” themselves join her. Boom! There is a movement on Willow’s hands, and she’s the one leading the charge.
Along the way, the ever confident Willow struggles and falls, but she doesn’t let it keep her down for long. She’s a strong confident girl, and even if she forgets it sometimes, her friends are around to remind her.
I don’t tend to read contemporary novels. I like mine with magic and a side of vampires. So when I opened up Dumplin’ I was a bit nervous I wouldn’t like it. I was wrong. Oh so very wrong. This book might not have actual magic in the plot, but there is magic in the words. Julie Murphy has made me a fan for life.
This book is hilarious and thought provoking. I alternated between laughing and crying, often in the same chapter. Julie Murphy perfectly captures what it’s like to be a teenager who is happy with herself in a world that is trying to tell her that she needs to change, and the doubt that comes along with that.
When I finished Dumplin’ it stayed with me for days and days. Willow is a character that you can’t forget. She’s got insight into the world that I haven’t even accomplished yet, and she does it with such humor and positivity, that you can’t help by want to join her rally.