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.
Author: Julie Murphy
Part of a Series: No. Standalone.
Release Date: September 15, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
No. of Pages: 384 pages
Genre: Romance, Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
The Cover: Have I ever told you how much I adore black spines and covers? Well, now I did. And with that said, I am utterly in awe with Dumplin’s magnificent cover. It’s regal, yet, the amount of effort put into it was very minimal. The font was simple, and the presence of a small-sized fat girl on the middle is legendary. The tagline is superb as well! Just by looking at the cover, the reader would know that the book is about a fat girl with great confidence. ‘Nuff said. (5 out of 5 stars)
The Story: Everything about this book is amazing. I expected many things from this book and I’m glad to have been extremely satisfied.
The characters, specifically Willowdean Dickson, felt real and relatable, and their character developments were outstanding. I have to say, I have never been able to connect and relate to a character as I did with Willowdean. She has this notion that with her physical appearance (with her weight, specifically), no one would be able to express love for someone like her, until she meets Bo Larson. *cue fangirl noises* She pushes people like Bo, and Ellen, her bestfriend, because of fear that no one except her, would be able to understand what she’s going through. This is a phase that I relate to the most because it’s actually realistic, and the probability of a great number of readers loving this book for the same reason amuses me.
The idea of telling the story of a confident, self proclaimed fat-girl was not only new to me. It was also an idea that sparked and made fireworks out of my interest. Being a self-proclaimed fat-boy myself, just like Willowdean, I too am flawed. I am fat and I refuse to think negatively about myself. I could obviously learn a thing or two from Willowdean. She’s actually my concrete idea as to what a teenager should be in our modern time. Brave, confident, just a tad bit proud and granted with a good serving of substance. Because of Dumplin’, I’m now looking forward to reading about protagonists who are, in some ways, flawed, but dauntless and confident.
Julie made a splendid attempt in trying to make her MC a humorous and bubbly one. As I started reading this book, I was actually afraid that Willowdean might not be as authentic as I perceived her to be. I thought she was going to be one of those characters who were troubled because of past experiences which might result to an overrated MC status. After reading it, I am glad to have been proven wrong. Willowdean wasn’t just your average protagonist. She have that oomph factor. One that I have been trying to find in charcters from previous books I’ve read but to no avail.
This book, as if it isn’t that obvious, is all about empowerment. And I loved every single page of it! I actually am vouching for this to be a trend. Way back January of 2015. The suicide-mental illness trend was made popular with the release of books like All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, My Heart and Other Blackholes by Jasmine Warga, etc. And now, this. Being a flawed individual myself, I love reading books like these, wherein the MCs are widely imperfect, and yet, there’s something about them that makes you want to root for them.
I am literally lost for words. I loved this book so, so much. (5 out of 5 stars)
The Ending: I have to admit, I was kinda expecting for a completely different way on how this book will end, but I was wrong. But it’s okay. It just goes to show that this book actually is a little unpredictable in it’s own way. I actually don’t know how to ramble on about the ending without spoiling anyone, so I guess I’ll just leave it with “It was very good. Not how I imagined it would end, but it was still very good.” (4 out of 5 stars)
The Verdict: When I listed this book as #2 on my most anticipated reads for the 2nd half of 2015, I knew that I made a good choice. And upon reading it, I was proven correct. The story is unique, and yet, it feels utterly relatable and nostalgic. I loved every single page of it and Julie’s concept of telling the story of a confident, bright, fat-girl is genius. I hope that with the success of Dumplin’, authors would be encouraged to write about flawed, but brave and confident characters. (4.67 out of 5 stars)
And to show you just how much I loved this book, I’m attaching my fabulous #DumplinPose. Photo courtesy of my sweet friend Jayvee, the Misfit Writer.
And, no, please don’t mind the man behind me, who actually looks weirded out by my Dumplin Pose. He may be a weirdo himself. Haha!
“The word fat makes people uncomfortable. But when you see me, the first thing you notice is my body. And my body is fat. It’s like how I notice some girls have big boobs or shiny hair or knobby knees. Those things are okay to say. But the word fat, the one that best describes me, makes lips frown and cheeks lose their color.” – Willowdean
“When you’ve known someone for so long, you don’t see the same things in them that everyone else does.” – Willowdean
“… You don’t always have to win a pageant to wear a crown.” – Donna
“Loyalty is being there for someone. It’s selfless. It’s about standing by someone’s side even when you don’t want to. Because you love them.” – Willowdean
“This dress makes me feel like someone I didn’t know I could be. I’ve never owned anything like it. But if when you see this–when you see me–you think it’s a pity, that it’s a shame I didn’t lose a few, then screw you, Mom. Try harder.” – Willowdean
“Sometimes, good things happen to you at the absolute worst time.” – Bo Larson
“I think maybe it’s the things we don’t want to talk about that are the things people most want to hear.” – Willowdean
Still unconvinced? Well then. Let Epic Reads give it a shot:
About The Author:
Julie lives in North Texas with her husband who loves her, her dog who adores her, and her cat who tolerates her. When she’s not writing or trying to catch stray cats, she works at an academic library. Side Effects May Vary is Julie’s debut novel.