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.
This book was on my TBR for a long time, even before I heard about the Netflix movie, and seeing the trailer kinda made me want to read it more, and luckily my library had it.
With Willowdean or Dumplin, she deals with the fact that she is fat, and the daughter of a beauty queen. She deals with her normal life with school and friends, while also dealing with the constant bullying from classmates.
The beginning of the book does a good job at setting up her character arc, and seeing why she would join a beauty pageant even if she was seen as unconventional. With her entering the pageant she inspired other girls who weren’t seen as conventional beauty to also join, including Millie, another fat girl, and Hannah, a queer latina. I thought they were great characters and I loved Millie’s story arc.
What I like about the book is the theme of empowerment and the message about body positivity. It didn’t deal with the fact that Willowdean needed to lose weight or having her be happy after weight loss. It also took a lot of shots at diet culture, and how it made her miserable.
She also deals a lot with grief, especially with her aunt Lucy, who she was very close with, even closer than her mother. Willowdean made for a great main character because throughout the book I was constantly rooting for her at every turn.
I thought her relationship with her mother was pretty layered. Yes, her mother would try to get her to diet, and become more like her. As Willowdean enters the pageant the relationship starts to unravel a bit, but in the end, both of them kinda come to an understanding and I liked that.
There is also some romance. Firsts there is Bo, her co-worker at the diner and their relationship was really good, and you could see that he cared about her. While it does come across as a cliche romance I did enjoy seeing them together. Then there is Mitch, football player at her school and it also had the cliche romance in which he was almost embarrassed to be seen with her.
In the end, I loved reading Dumplin. It was a great book from start to finish. It was a great and empowering message with an amazing character in Willowdean to follow. I will definitely be watching this when it comes on Netflix.