Dumplin had been on my to read pile for ages and I’m not going to lie to you guys I totally saw the film first, I’m sorry. In my mind, the fact the film made me instantly pick up the book showed what a wonderful job the filmmakers did of translating Julie’s work to the screen. I also now have an unhealthy obsession with Dolly Parton she is the cheerleader and moral support I didn’t know I needed in my life.
Dolly Parton, Drag Queens and a story that pulls on your heartstrings, making you think about the importance of self-esteem and self-confidence and how it affects daily life and the power we all have when we feel truly ourselves. Do I really, need another reason to like this book. It was so easy to like and that is down to Julie’s writing.
Dumplin' is about a girl called Willowdean and she is fat and she knows it (her words). She doesn't go on unnecessary diets to change herself and is comfortable enough to slip on a swimsuit and go swimming with her bestie. Willowdean has been told by her mother her whole life that if she could just lose a few lbs she could compete in the Beauty pageant she runs. Will is such a relatable character, I don't take much to understand where she’s coming from or how she's feeling, and I also thought her struggle with how to think about her body is something that many people need to hear. I loved how she took no prisoners and called the bullies out it was so refreshing.
Willowdean doesn't care about her weight and she decides to show her mother and the world this by taking part in the Pageant that her mother won so many years ago. Little did Willowdean know that other girls in her class would enter, they would make waves, be laughed at, but most of all they would become friends and they would prove that they are people who deserve respect. I grew to love this group of girls and the effect they had on Willowdean.
The storyline and characters were all thoroughly enjoyable I was invested in learning about how the pageant was panning out and how Willowdean's relationships were falling apart and being put back together. I loved all the characters, they were all unique and quirky and themselves and they all stood out from each other, which is really hard to achieve. They all had something to add to the table, they all meant something to Will and they all gave us an important lesson to take away.
Throughout the book, Julie highlights the often-unnoticed ways a person’s weight can exclude them from certain places, cultures, and experiences. Clothes powerfully measure these systems of exclusion: Fitting into clothes becomes a metaphor for fitting into society. Dumplin exposes the ways we fail to accommodate all body types. Supposedly, public places can pinch certain bodies reminding overweight people that the space wasn’t designed for them. Julie questions common assumptions about beauty and allure, focusing on how people can find different looks attractive.
This is a book about confidence, friendship, and being comfortable in your own skin. It’s a book about teenage, growing up, and growing apart.