Release Date - September 15, 2015
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 384 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**
Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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.The buzz surrounding Julie Murphy's sophomore release has been steadily growing. It seems almost impossible to not have heard the near deafening roar of praise for this novel. After reading Dumplin' I can confirm that every single amount of praise is undoubtedly earned. In other words, everything about this book was perfection from start to finish. It will make you laugh, cry, fist pump, and happily sigh. It's filled with moments of growing up, growing apart, growing into yourself and is all handled in the most beautiful way possible with Julie Murphy's writing hitting all the right notes.
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.
Willowdean is the heroine we've all been waiting for. She may not slay monsters, start revolutions, or overthrow governments but she does something so vital for teenagers everywhere - she shows the importance of self acceptance. She may go from having confidence, to wrestling with her self esteem, but she shows that it is okay to not get it right all the time. That stumbling does happen, but that it is possible to bounce back because you are worth loving. Through Willowdean we see what a struggle self acceptance can be, but also how necessary it is. She's witty, intelligent, and so outspoken. She's the kind of girl you wish you were, or wish you were best friends with. She's a star, in other words, and she shines bright.
Bo is one of the most swoon worthy love interests to grace the pages of a YA novel in a long while. He's sweet, sensitive, and respects Willowdean. He listens to what she is telling him. He respects her decisions, and shows that he supports her. Even when she is having self doubt and tells him she needs some time, his response is to tell her to take all the time she needs because he'll be there. He shows he cares about her, but gives her the room she needs at the time. This was refreshing and exactly the way you would want to be treated. It sets such a great example for teenage readers with a realistic portrayal of a high school romance.
The entire novel's message can sort of be summed up by this one passage
“Dolly Parton is singing to some mysterious Jolene who she thinks is more beautiful and more worthy than her, begging her not to take her man. It’s catchy and everyone knows the words, but to me, it's this reminder that no matter who you are, there will always be someone prettier or smarter or thinner."Dumplin' offers the message that everyone has something about themselves that they would want to change. Everyone feels these feelings of insecurity sometimes. We've all been there and that is why this book really would appeal to everyone. Everyone struggles with self acceptance. Everyone. Even those who appear perfect, and Willowdean's use of the song Jolene hammers in that point effortlessly.
This novel is filled with so many empowering, quotable passages that my book is basically filled with Post-It notes. Sex, friendship and so much more are tackled with the same heart as the rest of the issues in the novel. Incredible passage include Willowdean proclaiming to her mother that a man won't magically fix her troubles, to this incredible sex positive passage that made me cheer
"Plus having sex doesn't make you a woman. That is so freaking cliché. If you want to have sex, have sex, but don't make it this huge thing that carries all this weight. You're setting yourself up for disappointment."There is too often this value put on female virginity that is maddening and sad making. The fact is that having sex just means you had sex and that is exactly what Willowdean is saying this quote. This novel leaves an empowered, dizzying feeling behind. You'll want to give it to every single person you see, make them read it, and discuss it at length with you when they are done. It's the kind of story you cannot keep to yourself, it makes you want to loudly sing it's praises.
This book will leave you with a heart ten times fuller than what it was when you started reading. It'll leave you with a craving for cherry candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and perhaps most importantly, it'll leave you feeling empowered. Julie Murphy has written a novel that will speak to every single person out there, as she beautifully, and touchingly shows that everyone has moments of self doubt and insecurity; even if it doesn't seem that way from the outside looking in.