Readers have repeatedly recommended this novel to me as "a YA book for people who don't usually like YA," and it was so much fun. Murphy combines several unlikely themes into one feel-good story: young love, a small-town beauty pageant, and Dolly Parton super-fans. The story centers on sixteen-year-old Willowdean (whose mother calls her Dumplin'), a self-described fat girl who's confident in who she is—until the cute boy at work gives her a kiss. I read this with an eye towards handing it off to my own nearly-thirteen-year-old, and I won't be doing that, but I did enjoy it for myself and am looking forward to reading more Julie Murphy novels.
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.