Willowdean is a self-proclaimed fat girl who has always been comfortable with who she is. She wears what she wants, does what she wants and doesn’t pay much attention to what people think of her until her co-worker at a local fast food joint catches her eye. He is handsome and he seems to be flirting with her but why would he flirt with her? The extra attention he starts giving her begins to play mind games with Willowdean’s self-esteem.
Her mother is a hometown legend when it comes to the local beauty pageant that is held every year. Willowdean has never given the pageant much thought until she starts to lose her confidence so, in a crazy move, she decides to enter the pageant and talks some of her friends to join with her, no matter their size or appearance.
Willowdean takes a self-awareness journey as she begins preparations for the beauty pageant while at the same time trying to figure out if she has feelings for her co-worker and how all that works into her life.
Dumplin’ had been on my to-read list for awhile. I was glad to finally get a chance to read it. I admire Willowdean. She doesn’t give much thought to what anyone else thinks and just concentrates on being the best Willowdean she can be. What a wonderful place the world would be if more of us took advice from her.
I thought Willowdean and her Motley Crue of friends were fun and all of their own insecurities helped showcase that weight issues aren’t the only physical barriers people have to overcome.
I also enjoyed Willowdean’s infatuation with Dolly Parton. As a lover of old country music, I often feel I am in the minority so it was fun to see Dolly brought into the story.
I was afraid this book would have a fairy tale ending where Dumplin’ would win the pageant and everything would just be perfect, and (not to spoil anything), I’m glad it didn’t end that way.
In my head, I have a list of books I think all teenage girls should read before they graduate high school and I think this book should be added to that list. I love how so many great topics are brought up from self-image to bullying and I thought Julie Murphy did a great job sending a great message without sounding to preachy.