Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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.
There’s so much I love about this book. It beaks so many stereotypes and tropes we see so much of in YA. Willowdean is a big girl who is (mostly) comfortable in her skin. Yes, she’s fat. But she’s honest, funny, confident and, most of all, relatable. When her confidence wavers, she does the unthinkable and enters a beauty contest.
This book is hones and it’s empowering for young girls to read. There are two great guys in this book - Bo and Mitch. The Dolly Parton references are hilarious. There’s so much character and voice in this book. Simply amazing.