Finished: December 31, 2016
Published: September 15, 2015
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Source: Personal Copy (Book Club Selection - January)
You might enjoy this book if you like: Young adult fiction, Southern fiction, Dolly Parton, Body Positivity books
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.
This is one of those books that so many people have recommended to me. I've actually had it sitting on my Kindle for over a year, but never got to it until my book club chose it for their January book.
I say all this because it was a case of me having high expectations, probably unrealistic expectations, going into my reading. I also had an idea in my head of what this book would be, and that idea was not entirely accurate. Unfortunately, I think both of these things played an influence on how I ultimately felt about this book.
First of all, this book was described by many to be a book about "body positivity." Even the summary might lead people to think that--but, ultimately, I didn't find it especially body positive. Will never seems to be fully comfortable with her body and it always is what defines her. I didn't feel as I finished this book that Will truly accepted her physical self, which is what I was expecting from this book.
The other element that didn't sit well with me was the love triangle. In nearly every case, love triangles make me uncomfortable--that is just the nature of the beast. However, I'm not against them, as long as they serve some purpose. I just didn't feel that the love triangle in this book was needed. In fact, I found it to be a distraction from the main plot of the book.
Despite all this, there were things I enjoyed about this book. Murphy's writing is quite strong and there were plenty of pretty turns of phrase sprinkled throughout. I appreciated at how well Murphy was able to get inside Will's head and helped the reader see the world through her eyes. I also felt Will;s experience as a teenager to be authentic and believable and the supporting cast of characters to be, for the most part, interesting and unique.
Ultimately, I did enjoy this book, even though it wasn't what I expected, nor as successful as I had hoped. That being said, this is still a book I would recommend to fans of Young Adult fiction.
I was not solicited for this review and I received no compensation for this post.