Publisher: Harper 360
Release Date: 28th January 2016
Edition: US hardcover, review copy
Other Titles by this Author: Side Effects May Vary
Self-proclaimed far 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 perfect bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, at 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 herself 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 most Miss Clover City beauty pageant – along with several other unlikely candidates – to show the world that she deserves to be up to 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.
I really loved Dumplin’. It’s a quick, easy read with a lot of heart.
Willowdean knows she’s fat and she owns it. She’s comfortable in her body but that doesn’t mean she’s insecurity free, and the arrival of Bo and his feelings for her amp those insecurities up to a solid 8/10. Everything Will felt and thought and experienced felt true to my experiences of being the fat one in a group of gorgeous, skinny girls. Murphy didn’t include figures or sizes – she didn’t define what's fat and what isn’t which I'm really glad about. That would have made this novel damaging rather than empowering. The way that Bo suddenly being around her, touching her, kissing her and even walking along next to her made her more aware of her body than she was before is really powerful and mirror same feelings I've experienced a lot over the years (I’ve had a long, painful and complicated relationship with my body since I was a kid).
Lots of Will’s feelings about her body were tied in with her mum. Six months ago, they lost Will’s aunt Lucy to a heart attack caused by her being nearly 500 pounds and she’s still struggling to get her head around it. In some ways Lucy was more a mum to her than her own mum is – she advised her, supported her and encouraged her while her mum is obsessed with running the Blue Bonnet pageant and is desperate for Willowdean to slim down. Their relationship was tough to read at times. It was obvious that lots of what Will’s mum said was meant with the best intentions, it was just the wrong thing to say, and she didn’t know how to connect with her daughter and see her as not just her body.
The Blue Bonnet beauty pageant rules the town of Clover City for at least half of every year and it was fascinating to read about. Beauty pageants aren’t really a thing in the UK, I mean, I'm sure there some, but it’s not something you hear about. I have to admit that I've always loathed the idea of them so it was morbidly interesting to learn about everything that goes into one. And honestly, if pageants starred girls like Willowdean, Millie, Hannah and Amanda as a norm then I'd watch the hell out of that! I was especially rooting for Millie; she was one of my most favourite characters in the novel and I’d really, really like to read a book solely about her.
Dumplin’ is an important read and I really hope it makes it into the right hands; those fat/bullied/strange etc girls who need reassurance that they deserve everything that the beauty queens get and those beauty queens who call the other girls names and whisper behind their backs. If this book makes even one girl think twice before judging another on their appearance then that will be wonderful.
Thanks to Harper360 for the review copy and don't forget to check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour!