Release Date: September 15th 2015
Genres: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Source: Received in exchange for review
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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.
When I first heard of Dumplin’, I was really excited. Self-proclaimed fat girl enters beauty pageant? Uhm, how about yes, please. It seemed like the ultimate eff-you to beauty standards and generally awesome. And, well, I must admit I did love that aspect of the book, but I wasn’t completely smitten with it as a whole.
My main problem with Dumplin’ is that I just didn’t really click with it. The story is good, the characters are solid, but I just felt this sort of detachment that kept me from getting really involved. This is, of course, a personal thing and I’m guessing not a lot of people will feel this way – but hey, this is my honest opinion of the book. I recognize that Dumplin’ was a really solid novel that made some good points, but I was simply not really involved.
The protagonist of the novel is Willowdean, or Will. I loved her confidence and spunk, but I must admit that I wasn’t really enamored with the rest of her character. She can be judgemental and stubborn in a way I couldn’t really get behind. Of course, this is what character development is for and she does change, but I didn’t like her all that much. Then again, I don’t have to necessarily like a character, but, argh, I don’t know. I’m very articulate today. Something about her just bugged me sometimes, but I recognize her as a strong character. And she does change, so I really don’t have anything to complain about in that regard.
What I absolutely did love were the female friendships. There’s this awesome arc between Will and her (former) best friend Ellen, in which they fight and make up and basically just realise that FRIENDSHIP IS IMPORTANT, which has my stamp of approval all over it. Then there’s the other friendship arc, in which Will and a group of misfits get together to conquer this pageant thing. Unlikely group of people bonding because they have a common cause = MY JAM. Loved seeing this friendship grow and how these girls bonded.
I wasn’t as sold on the romance, in that I simply didn’t ship it. But I am someone who, well, doesn’t ship lightly. I’ll admit there were a couple of cute moments, but I didn’t have strong feelings about it either way. To be honest, the most important part of this book, for me, was challenging beauty standards and on that front it delivered.
So really, I do think Dumplin’ is a good book. It’s strong, it knows what it wants. Come for the challenging of beauty standards, stay for the awesome friendships.
~Thank you Balzer + Bray for the review copy!~
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