I read this for Diverse Divers Book Club-January BOTM.
BY: Julie Murphy
SERIES: Dumplin’ #1
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance,
PUBLICATION: September 15th, 2015 by Balzer + Bray
Willowdean or ‘Dumplin” to her former beauty queen mom has always been at home in her own skin. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked. Until Will takes a job at the local fast-food joint where she meets and finds herself attracted to Bo and she finds it surprising he seems to like her back. But instead of making her self-confidence rose, Will starts to doubt herself. And before she knew it, she’s joining the Miss Clover City beauty pageant inspiring others. Things get out of her control and she even finds herself in conflict with her best friend Ellen. But she’s still set to show the world she deserves to be in the pageant as much as everyone else.
(Just in case you’re feeling lazy to read a long one)
Great writing, amazing rep and realistic characters who don’t wish to be liked but to be accepted for who they are: this is a good read despite the tropes it has that I didn’t like.
I want to start by saying this book is really refreshing and liberating in a great way. I don’t think I’ve read a lot of books, especially YA, that has a plus-sized protagonist and joining a beauty pageant at that. 🙂 I really like the messages it’s trying to show and I think somehow it succeeded. And no, I’m not just talking about plus-size-women-can-join-a-pageant thing though yeah, it’s a great message. Like Will said, there’s no rule that says she can’t join. But aside from that, this book showed a great lesson on self-acceptance, friendship, love, and even family.
The characters, though not all likable and I swear they made me frown more than few times, they’re very realistic with flaws and personalities they’re not sorry of. I also like that there’s no mistaking one character from the other and not just because of diversity but because the author did a great job at giving each one of them a different voice. I mean, every character in this book can be all whites and thin and you’ll still know who’s who. This book’s message leans on physical diversity and it showed that physical appearance is not what defines a person, their personalities do. For example, Willowdean isn’t just the fat girl in school who gets bullied, she’s more than that and she definitely showed that. Or Ellen, Willowdean’s best friend, is not just the pretty, thin best friend, she’s more than that in the story. But my favorite character would be Lucy, Willowdean’s aunt. She’s dead and not really in the story but you’ll understand why I like her when you read the book. I really hoped she’s still alive. 🙂
Willowdean annoyed me sometimes, especially in the beginning. She can be self-centered, insecure and totally clueless. And she can be hypocritical too. But I forgive her because I do understand how it feels to be her. I was her when I was in high school. I didn’t join a pageant, lol, but I was the fat girl. I don’t think I need to explain my experiences. 🙂 Also she’s brave and really wants to love herself IN Her body. And when someone bullies her, she speaks back. I really like that about her.
Another thing in the story that annoyed me is the romance. I don’t like it at all. Sure Bo is a good character, I actually like him, though to say I love him would be an extent. I also find his romance with Willowdean a little cute. At first. What I don’t understand is the love triangle. There’s a freakin’ love triangle which for me is not necessary. I mean Willowdean is showing the reader her insecurities (though she doesn’t let it consume her), so having two guys who like her is just too much. I’m not saying it’s impossible to have two guys liking her but in the story, this trope is not necessary. And besides, I ended up liking Mitch, the other guy, more than Bo. And the way the romance was ended isn’t at all satisfying so having such big drama in romance aspect seems unnecessary and of course one of the guys doesn’t get Will so it’s cruel. Plus Bo and Will’s misunderstanding around the middle of the story baffles me.
But aside from the romance, I love all other relationships that were dealt with in the story such as the friendship and family stuff between the characters. The resolutions were well-done. I love how the conflict between Willowdean and Ellen was resolved. It was very realistic. Also, I haven’t mentioned yet, having that kind of conflict between best friends is also very realistic. Though Ellen and Willowdean annoyed me that time, still it’s very realistic. I also love the scenes in the last quarter between Willowdean and her mother. Those scenes were heartwarming.
Overall, though I might not call this book a favorite, I still enjoyed reading it. The great writing and realistic story made this book an amazing read.
FINAL RATING: 3.5 blissful pages with Lilies
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