Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Julie Murphy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
“The word fat makes people uncomfortable,” Willowdean (Will) Dickson proclaims. When people first meet Will it's not her love of Dolly Parton, her crush on Bo, or her perfectly skinny best friend Ellen that people notice first, but Will's body. Normally this doesn’t bother Will, but when Bo starts to show interest in her, Will's confidence is shaken. Reeling from her biggest fight ever with Ellen and her budding romance with Bo, Will decides to get her confidence back by entering the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet beauty pageant along with a few other girls who don’t quite fit the mold of “beauty queen.” But Will and the girls are determined to redefine beauty.
Dumplin’s biggest strength is how absolutely relatable it is. Readers who have struggled with self-confidence and body image will find a best friend and role model in Will. Her story navigates through terrible jobs, fights with best friends, and first loves, making Will's story of self-discovery accessible and thrilling. However, the implementation of overused storylines and tropes (i.e., love triangles) might make readers feel like they’ve read this story before and already know how it ends. Though perhaps not a surprise or a standout, this book is a great choice for young adult readers.
*Contains severe language and mild sexual content.