Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy is told from the point of view of Miss Willowdean Dickson. Born and raised in Texas, Willowdean is the daughter of Rosie Dickson, a former Miss Teen Blue Bonnet who lives and breathes pageant life. Will isn’t about to follow in her mother’s footsteps though thanks to her weight. But what if she did? When Will and a group of other misfits decide to enter the pageant they embark on a journey where they learn more than pageant etiquette.
I think the crowning glory of this book are the characters. Will is a realistic teenager who both loves and hates her physical appearance. She can be judgemental and rash but is trying to teach herself not to be and she has an unhealthy obsession with Dolly Parton. Will’s best friend Ellen has her own insecurities whilst Bo, Will’s love interest, is working on his own issues. Throughout the novel the character development of these, and more, is done in a beautiful way.
The overall plot was a little predictable but is filled with feel good moments as well as heartbreak. Julie Murphy doesn’t just explore weight and body positivity as an issue that teens face but also bullying, loss, money problems and friendships.
I am recommending Dumplin’ to a lot of people in my life simply because I think there is something in the novel for everyone.
Do you think we need more body positive books in YA?