Dumplin’, by Julie Murphy (Sept. 2015, Balzer & Bray), $17.99, ISBN: 9780062327185
Recommended for ages 13+
Willowdean Dickson is a fat girl. That’s not an insult, by the way – she’ll tell you she’s a fat girl, but she’s not bothered about it. She wishes everyone else would get a grip, though, especially her mom, who also coordinates the local annual beauty pageant, which is THE event of the year.
Will, as she likes to be called, is mourning the death of her Aunt Lucy, who was like a second mother to her. Lucy, who was morbidly obese, died in her early 30s from a massive heart attack, so that’s not helping keep Will’s mom – who calls her Dumplin’ – off her case.
The thing is, she’s confident. But when her co-worker, the gorgeous new kid, Bo, takes notice of her, she feels different. She can just imagine what everyone will say about her if they see her and Bo together, and that really stresses her out. To get back some of her confidence and pay tribute to Lucy, Will decides to enter her the big beauty pageant, which spurs a few girls at school to join her. Girls that would never have had the guts to try before. Now, Will finds herself at odds with her best friend, Ellen, and the unofficial leader of this revolution. Dolly Parton, save us!
Told in the first person in Willowdean’s voice, Dumplin’ is brilliant. Will is sarcastic and self-assured, and really, really hates this lack of confidence that hits her just as the gorgeous guy takes notice of her. There’s Dolly Parton, making out under the Texas stars, and drag queens, along with a heroine that everyone should aspire to. Crank up Jolene, sit back, and enjoy this book.
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