I’ve been mulling over this book since finishing it the other night. My feelings have gone from enthusiastic enjoyment to feeling as though the plot was dragging to thoughts of solid appreciation to . . . well, now I think I kind of love this book. Dumplin’ is the kind of young adult book I wish I had to read when I was a young adult. I think it would have been a bolster to my shy, quiet, fat girl self back in the day. Regardless, there’s a lot to admire about the heroine of Dumplin’, Willowdean Dickson, not the least of which is the fierce and unflinching attitude she has about herself. I wish – I strive – to feel that way about myself. Even as a nearing-forty adult.
“It’s like how I notice some girls have big boobs or shiny hair or knobby knees. Those things are okay to say. But the word fat, the one that best describes me, makes lips frown and cheeks lose their color.”
So, other things I really liked about this book:
- Willowdean has multiple suitors. So many times, fat girls are portrayed as the side kick or the best friend or the keeper of unrequited, impossible love. But the boys in Dumplin’ like Willowdean for who she is not what she looks like. And I kind of love that.
- The whoosh-in-my-stomach-like-I’m-riding-a-roller-coaster feeling whenever Bo and Willowdean shared a scene – especially three quarters of the way into the story and thereafter. (Sorry, trying to be spoiler-free!)
- How Willowdean stands her ground when she knows she’s right. Case in point: after a falling out with her best friend, Willowdean knows that she has some things to apologize for . . . but she also knows that her best friend does, too. And it isn’t ok to slide those under the rug without resolving them. No matter how much it hurts to have that separation.
“All my life I’ve had a body worth commenting on and if living in my skin has taught me anything it’s that if it’s not your body, it’s not yours to comment on.”
I wish that there were a compulsory course in middle school or high school that dealt with respecting one’s self. A mandatory class that taught kids and young adults that it’s NOT OK to point and stare and minimize feelings and maximize insults just because someone doesn’t look like your idea of perfection or beauty or desirability. Bullying, body shaming, name calling . . . none of that crap is OK. And in that imaginary mandatory class, the required reading list would start with Dumplin’.
About the Author
Julie lives in North Texas with her husband who loves her, her dog who adores her, and her cat who tolerates her. When she’s not writing or trying to catch stray cats, she works at an academic library. Side Effects May Vary is Julie’s debut novel.