All of the best things in my life have started with a Dolly Parton song. Including my friendship with Ellen Dryver.
Well, I should have known this book would be a winner. Cuz who the hell doesn’t love Dolly Parton? In Julie Murphy’s book, Dumplin’, we get to know the lovable and feisty Willowdean Dickson. And honey, she ain’t no Southern Belle.
Will is the kind of girl who doesn’t give a shit about her weight. She’s fat (her words, not mine), but doesn’t make a big deal about it. She loves herself, loves the way she looks and doesn’t mind that her best friend is a bombshell. Or that her mom is a former beauty pageant winner. None of that bothers her until she starts seeing Bo, a coworker and and the town hot guy, the kind you want to kiss all the time. Bo makes her doubt her curves, and not because of anything he does (thank goodness). But Will goes through what many of us who date someone considerably hotter than us go through: she worries about what others will say about them as a couple. Mainly, how the hell did she get him? I can definitely relate.
Although I’ve been skinny most of my life, I have dated guys who were considered above my pay grade, so to speak. When I was in high school, I literally had girls come up to me and ask how I ended up with a particular hot guy. It bothered me so much that I just broke up with him. But as an adult, I didn’t care what anyone thought because I knew I could get a hot guy because I’m freaking awesome. My confidence is what drew the hot guys (and still does) and Willowdean had it in spades. It was tough for me to read parts of the novel where she felt so insecure about being with Bo. But that’s the beauty of this book. Will is a confident girl, but sometimes even the brave ones are bitten by the insecurity bug.
Dumplin’ takes an awesome turn when Willowdean enters The Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant, a huge deal in her little town of Clover City. As a former winner, her mother is naturally shocked to learn her daughter is a contestant. But Will has a purpose for entering and becomes an inspiration to others who join her crusade.
I absolutely love Willowdean Dickson! She is not a tragic figure. Instead, she is a young woman who thinks a bikini body is a body in a bikini, plain and simple. She doesn’t try fad diets, crazy exercise trends or tummy teas. Will loves her curves and herself. But she’s also a young woman living in a society with unnatural, and unhealthy, beauty standards. That alone is enough to make even the most confident person falter. But Ms. Murphy wrote her main character as someone to be admired, not pitied or seen as a charity case, and I’m thankful for that.
There’s no release date for the film adaptation of Dumplin’, but I do know it’s in post-production. In the meantime, grab a copy of this great read from your local bookstore or library. I highly recommend it.