Author: Julie Murphy
Recommended for: 9th grade and up
Call Number/Link: TEEN FICTION MURPHY
Synopsis: For fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell comes this powerful novel with the most fearless heroine—self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson—from Julie Murphy, the acclaimed author of Side Effects May Vary. With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.
Dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom, Willowdean 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 Teen Blue Bonnet 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.
I loved Willowdean. She and really all of the other characters are well developed, real and so much fun. The book addresses all kinds of teen problems and angst without being at all ‘preachy’ or serious. Crushes, friendship problems, bullying, hurt feelings, insecurities, heartbreak, Will faces them all and comes out on the other side with her sense of humor and self esteem intact. Willowdean and her circle of friends come to embrace who they are and believe in themselves, not in what others think about them. Will is a great inspiration for any teen who feels they don’t fit in. As one reviewer put it, “I am happy to tell you no one loses weight in this book, and no one feels compelled to explain how a hot guy could fall for a full sized gal. Thank you. Seriously. Instead, you can expect to find some cross dressing Dolly Parton impersonators, myriad references to the song Jolene, and big girls showing up weird, loud, and proud to walk the beauty pageant catwalk.”