Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Review: Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

Duplin' by Julie Murphy
Release Date: September 15, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

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.

There's just so much I want to say about this book and I almost don't know where to start.  I loved the entire concept, and if anyone reads that summary and thinks it's unlikely, or cliche, trust me, it's not. This was a fantastic story with excellent characters.

Let's start first with Will. She's an amazing character who is a big girl, and who has had to grow up living with a mother who once won a beauty pageant, and who now spends huge chunks of each year organizing the same annual event, and treating her daughter like a problem to be solved due to her weight.  You would think that Will would grow up feeling extremely insecure under this type of treatment, but she's surprisingly confident and sure of herself.  It's not that her mother's comments and actions don't bother her, because they do.  She would like it if her mother could just love her the way she is, but she doesn't let it change her own outlook toward herself.

Enter Bo.  Bo is hot, and for some reason, he's into Willowdean.  It isn't until they begin to see each other that she starts to let insecurity enter her heart.  She wonders why a guy like him would like a girl like her.  This insecurity grows to the point where she knows she has to change her outlook, get herself back, so to speak.  And so she enters the beauty pageant, to her mother's evident embarrassment.

Let me just say that I loved how confident this girl was.  I loved how she did this, did for herself, and didn't worry about what anyone thought.  Despite all this going on, there is a very sweet and hot romance as well, and I loved how that developed. It wasn't perfect at first, it was full of doubt, but at the same time, I thought Bo was a great character who didn't even think about getting caught up in stereotypes.  Gotta love a guy like this.

I related to Will very much, and was able to sympathize and empathize with her on a deep level.  I loved her from the start.  The author did an amazing job with characterization and really making you fall in love with her characters.  The story was beautifully written, and had an excellent message.  I would recommend this book, no doubt!

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