Monday, November 23, 2015

Book Review: "Dumplin'" by Julie Murphy

Willowdean is Willowdean.  She does not pretend to be something she's not.  She's perfectly happy in her body, even if her former beauty queen mother thinks she should lose a few pounds.  She and Ellen have been best friends forever.  But this past year, Will sees things changing.  She and Ellen are drifting apart, and she really misses Aunt Lucy - who was practically her second parent until she died unexpectedly.  And then there is the boy at work, Bo, who seems like he might genuinely like her, and she likes him back - but she also is suddenly self-conscious about herself.  Its not like her at all.  So what does she do?  She takes all her confidence and enters the annual beauty pageant - along with a couple friends she didn't know she had.

Willowdean is not a perfect character....  she makes some questionable choices, and even leads a very nice boy on all while saying she doesn't want to lead him on.  It isn't very nice of her, especially when she seems so brutally honest with everyone else.  But she has a strong sense of self, and an inner confidence that I wish I had.  She owns her body, and stands up for herself.  I really liked that.  This book is pretty funny and amusing too, which I very much enjoyed.  I want to mention specific scenes, but I don't want to spoil the fun for you!

I also appreciated that even beyond having a main character that is not necessarily thin and gorgeous (or thin and girl-next-door pretty), there are other typical YA Lit "norms" that are not included.  The majority of the families are not two parent & happily married.  No one is "rich" or well-off.  Not everyone in the school is going off to college.  And its all okay.

*****
Dumplin'
by Julie Murphy
Balzer + Bray, 2015
375 pages
Source:  Library
*****

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