Publisher: Balzer + Bray (September 15, 2015)
Rating: 3 Stars
Cover Love: <3 <3 <3
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.
Oh I feel like the black is a body positive book that pushes the message of acceptance. Of loving your body and yourself the sheep for this but I did not like Dumplin’ as much as I hope I would. Yes Dumplin’ way it is. Great I love all the positivity and showing that fat girls are not unattractive and can get the guys too. I just wish it was more. I can’t say for sure what it is but something was missing. At least to me.
Maybe it’s the fact that I didn’t feel an emotional connection with any of the characters. Willowdean is a lovely character and I love her confidence and the interaction she has with her friends and family. She’s smart, intelligent and funny, yet I felt nothing for her or the journey that she was taking.
Also, as I mentioned earlier, Julie Murphy tries to show that fat girls can get guys too but the romance in this book was not believable. Now before you come at me, I know what it’s like to be the fat girl so don’t chop my head for what I said. When I said unbelievable, I mean that the romantic aspects of the book felt forced. Just felt like an afterthought to show that you don’t need to be a size 2 to get a dude.
Seriously, Willowdean and Bo barely talked two lines to each and suddenly they’re making out all over the place. Okay maybe not all over the place but you get what I mean. Another problem with the romance is that you really don’t get a sense of who Bo is, besides the fact that he’s wildly attractive with a strong jawline and the popular guy who doesn’t care about Willowdean’s size. Sorry but I need a little more than that.
Speaking of said relationship, once it happened it was like all of Willowdean’s insecurities started to show. She kept questioning the relationship. Like how and why was SHE dating the hottest guy in town? What happened to the girl with all the confidence in the world? The girl who didn’t give a fuck what people thought of her. That part of the book threw me for a loop.
As for the beauty pageant, don’t get your hopes up thinking that this what the book is truly about—Willowdean giving the smack down on what constitutes beauty. Nope the pageant doesn’t happen until the second half, damn near towards the end of the book. She was more occupy with the romance and how she could sabotage it.
Overall, Dumplin’ is a good book. It just wasn’t great. From the slow pacing and the lack of character connection I just couldn’t give it a higher rating. Still this is one of the most anticipated reads of 2015 and the message within the book is great. Something that is needed in YA. I wish more body positive books were out there.
So if you have a love for Dolly Parton—who doesn’t? I highly recommend Dumplin’. It’s a cute and fluffy contemporary read with a message of body acceptance that needs to be read and heard.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Julie lives in North Texas with her husband who loves her, her dog who adores her, and her cat who tolerates her. When she’s not writing or trying to catch stray cats, she works at an academic library. Side Effects May Vary is Julie’s debut novel.
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