Author: Julie Murphy
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.
Simple Version: I absolutely adored this book and Willowdean
I’m a very character driven reader. I have to like a character either because they’re just that awesome or just that bad. If I don’t like or care about the character I really don’t care what happens to them. I don’t care if they character changes and grows – I can’t get over my initial dislike. Well Willowdean is a character I loved from page one. I loved how, at the start, she was very self-confident. She works at this hotdog shop and kids from work come in all the time. This makes her uncomfortable but she doesn’t let it take over. I loved that. Yes kids make fun of her or weren’t always nice but that didn’t seem to shut her down. That just really made me like her! But – here’s the deal I loved even more that her world was rattled and she began to question what she always thought about herself. That just made her all the more real and likable. She began to really question if her confidence – her acceptance of herself was just an act it she really stumbles for a while. I loved watching how she worked through this.
I also like that although the beauty pageant is a big part of Willow’s life and the book it isn’t the only focus. There are actually parts of the book where the pageant is a side-note. I really thought it was going to be the main focus of a huge chunk of the book, and it wasn’t. I preferred it that was because it added more depth to all the characters from Willow to the other girls she becomes friends with. I got to know them for who they are before the pageant really started.
The ending, although realistic, did frustrate me just a bit only because I wanted the nice neat bow around all the frustrations Willow was having. I wanted everything 100% wrapped up, but that doesn’t happen. You see where things are headed, but they aren’t there yet. That was realistic. These were things, like her relationship with her mother, that have been set for many years, so they aren’t going to change overnight (although one scene with her mom goes through the night and it does change things!). I like that the author kept it realistic but a small part of my heart wanted the perfect happily ever after.
Quick thought: I loved Bo too! Nice, sweet, frustrating, honest boy. Well done!
Final thought: I wish Willowdean was my friend, and I miss her now that the book is over.