Dumplin by 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.
With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine— Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.
SOURCE: ARC from publisher for review
Willowdean – How can you not love a girl who is trying to love herself as is and make others see the same thing? And at such a young age! I wish I had half of her confidence when I was in high school. Heck I just wish I would have had this book back in high school. Willowdean made me want to go back and hug my old self and then smack her in the face for not trying to step outside of the box and just going for what I wanted without thinking about what others thought.
Bo – Nothing wrong with the strong silent type. Right up my alley!
This is a rare find in a book for me. Not only did Dumplin capture a true, authentic glimpse into small southern town living (and how it is so hard to claw your way out of them) but you get the same experience as a female and how we are about our lack of self-confidence. I felt like I was on the verge of tears every chapter, for different reasons and all in a good way. Never in my life have I felt so connected to a book as a person and like an author truly understood how it feels to be female living in society today. There was a scene with her mother (no spoilers I promise) that brought me back to conversations had with my mother and grandmother growing up that still tug at my heart. This was a wonderful book that I highly recommend to all women of all ages and anyone else just needing to know that someone else out there knows what it is like to be different and they think you are totally normal. Beautiful.
Just for the record – my favorite Dolly song is and always will be Hard Candy Christmas. The fact that my non-country loving brother knows the words and can pick it up within the first few notes should be proof of that. (Staple at Christmas season.) A strong second would be Islands in the Stream with Kenny which I might sing in the car with a friend when we road trip.