Author: Julie Murphy
Synopsis: 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.
Huge thank you to the publisher for letting me read an advanced copy of this book!
Well I flew through that! I wasn’t sure if I was going to read this book or not. It’s being pushed hard right now and I’m only hearing good things. So I went into it with high expectations. And I couldn’t stop comparing it to a slightly similar book, The Duff, another over-hyped book that I didn’t really like that much. But I enjoyed this. I really liked how it was very body-positive. Lately I feel like there’s a lot of focus on fat-shaming and it’s turning into skinny-shaming and that’s just not right. I think we need to focus on body-shaming as a whole. I have very strong feelings about body-shaming (especially the idea that it’s okay to shame skinny girls because being skinny = all the happiness in the world or something ::eye roll::) that I wont get into in this review, but I was a little worried that this was going to be too pro-big girl and anti-anything under 150lbs and it wasn’t. I loved that all of the girls had flaws. That even the ones who were perceived as “perfect” and “ideal” had issues. That pretty girls had ugly personalities and flawed girls had ugly personalities and pretty girls had nice personalities and flawed girls had nice personalities. It was all very well rounded.
I really enjoyed the characters in this book too. Some made me cringe, some made me want to scream. Millie was a gem and I loved how tough she was. I liked the unlikely friendship that developed between Will and Hannah. I liked how the mom struggled with her ideals and her love for her daughter. I even loved the ghost of Lucy.
I did not like the “romance” or the relationships that Will had with Bo and Mike (Mark? He was so blah that I can’t even remember his name!) This is where it felt like The Duff and I really didn’t like how things played out at all. I really would have liked more of a fluid relationship developing between Will and Bo and not whatever they had and then didn’t have and then tried to have again.
I also had issue with the pacing in this. I felt like the entire synopsis (minus the pageant) took place in the first 30% and then there was this unnecessary two month time jump (couldn’t this have just all taken place during the summer? I didn’t feel like them going to school really did anything for it, and the pageant could have easily taken place in the summer, right? No? idk). Also there were times when the chapters just seemed to END. And the book just seemed to END. No transitions.
So yes, believe the hype on this. It’s good. But for me it wasn’t a top read or anything. Enjoyable, important, but not without it’s flaws.