Julie Murphy, 1965-

Book - 2015

Sixteen-year-old Willowdean wants to prove to everyone in her small Texas town that she is more than just a fat girl, so, while grappling with her feelings for a co-worker who is clearly attracted to her, Will and some other misfits prepare to compete in the beauty pageant her mother runs.

Saved in:

Young Adult Area Show me where

1 / 1 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
Young Adult Area YOUNG ADULT FICTION/Murphy, Julie Checked In
New York, NY : Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers [2015]
Main Author
Julie Murphy, 1965- (-)
First edition
Physical Description
375 pages ; 22 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Willowdean Dickson, self-proclaimed fat girl and Dolly Parton enthusiast, has this to say: The word fat makes people uncomfortable. Will's mother (who calls her Dumplin') is a former winner of the local Miss Teen Blue Bonnet contest and now runs it, which makes pageant season an unwelcome constant in Will's life. To ignore it, she concentrates on her friendship with her bestie, Ellen, and her crush on fellow fast-food worker Bo, while trying to shake her grief over the death of her beloved 498-pound aunt. Knowing what it means to be fat, as well as what it means to her mother to be thin, Will decides to be happy being herself. Because why not? But when Bo kisses her behind the dumpster, and she and Ellen flameout, her life is turned inside out, and who she is becomes a question more than an answer. Murphy juggles a lot of plates here, and mostly keeps them admirably spinning. The story's set piece is the beauty contest, which Will and several other misfits decide to enter, ready to take the ridicule in trade for their right to the spotlight, but there are also splendid subplots involving friendships, the push-pull of the mother-daughter relationship, and the kindness of strangers, including an encouraging drag queen. Will's singular voice compels readers to think about all that goes into building and destroying self-esteem.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2015 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

About the only thing Clover City has going for it is its beauty pageant, the oldest in Texas. It's run by Willowdean Dickson's mother-a former winner-who has a hard time with the reality that Willowdean, a self-described "fat girl," will never be a beauty queen. Willowdean is okay with her size, mostly, but with 10th grade ending and her best friend considering having sex with her boyfriend, Willowdean feels like she is being left on the wrong side of the experience divide. An unexpected kiss with Bo, her handsome fast-food restaurant coworker, is thrilling, but she's also horrified at the idea of him touching her anywhere there is extra flesh. And that very reaction horrifies her, too; she thought she was at peace with herself. Murphy (Side Effects May Vary) successfully makes every piece of the story-Dolly Parton superfans, first love, best-friend problems, an unlikely group of pageant entrants, female solidarity, self-acceptance, and Willowdean's complicated relationship with the mother who nicknamed her "Dumplin' "-count, weaving them together to create a harmonious, humorous, and thought-provoking whole. Ages 13-up. Agent: Molly Jaffa, Folio Literary Management. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up-"The word fat makes some people uncomfortable," Willowdean Dickson remarks. Called Dumplin' by her mother, Will insists that fat is "not an insult." She's comfortably self-aware, buoyed by her late aunt, whom she still deeply mourns, and her picture-perfect best friend. When she introduces herself to coworker Bo, a private school jock and hottie, she's direct, describing herself as a "cashier, Dolly Parton enthusiast, and resident fat girl." Working late most nights, Will and Bo fall into a giddy summer romance-until the reality of the coming school year erodes Will's trust in Bo and, unexpectedly, her belief in herself. In hopes of reclaiming her bold, spunky spirit, Will enters a beauty pageant, shocking her mother, a former Miss Teen Blue Bonnet. Her audacity inspires the most unlikely supporters. Eileen Stevens's multifaceted voice gives Willowdean prodigious range-sweet and snarky, fearless and funny, determined and doleful, too. With Will firmly center stage, Stevens smoothly transitions from beauty queen to drag queen, mean girl to wannabe, bully to buddy. VERDICT Disney has already found Dumplin' irresistible; film rights were sold months before the pub date. Before the celluloid transformation, libraries should entrust Stevens to introduce this true original. ["A joyous read that will be beloved by many teens who can relate to feeling uncertain in their own skins": SLJ 8/15 review of the Balzer + Bray book.]-Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review

Im fat. Its not a cuss word. Its not an insult. At least its not when I say it. Clover City, Texas, resident Willowdean Will Dickson has always been comfortable with who she is: a cashier at Harpys Burgers Dogs, a Dolly Parton fan, and a fat girl. But the attention of Bo, a co-worker she has a crush on, makes her feel self-conscious; her insecurities only increase when she decides to enter the towns famous Miss Teen Blue Bonnet beauty pageant to honor her deceased aunt. Plus, her pageant-director mom is less than thrilled shes participating, and Wills fighting with her best friend. On the other hand, Will has the support of three other misfit pageant contestants; an encouraging drag queen; and the guy shes sort-of dating instead of Bo. Genuine, romantic, and with a dash of Texan charm, this is a novel that celebrates being who you are while also acknowledging that its incredibly difficult to do. And Will, who triumphs without losing an ounceeither in weight or attitudeis a relatable messenger. As she takes the stage on pageant night, wearing a swimsuit, she is at once vulnerable and courageous. I may be uncomfortable, she acknowledges, but I refuse to be ashamed. rachel l. smith (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

In a small Texas town, a confident fat girl confronts new challenges to her self-esteem. At age 16, Willowdeanher mother calls her Dumplin'has a good sense of herself. She's uninterested in Mom's raison d'tre, the Clover City Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant, which annually takes over the town and Will's own house. Mom won once and now runs the pageant, dieting to fit her old dress and pressuring Will to diet too. Will doesn't. She mourns her beloved aunt Lucy, a second parent to her who died six months ago, and simmers with pleasure over a new, hot, sort-of-boyfriend. However, his touch makes Will panic with newfound insecurity. She loses him, loses her old best friend, gains new social-outsider buddies (a familiar trope)and finds triumph somewhere amid Dolly Parton, drag queens, breaking pageant rules, and repairing relationships. The text refreshingly asserts that thinness is no requirement for doing and deserving good things, that weight loss isn't a cure-all, and that dieting doesn't work anyway. The plot arc, amazingly, avoids the all-too-common pitfall of having its fat protagonist lose weight. Unfortunately, Murphy loses her step and undermines her main point in the mournful, cringeworthy details of Lucy's death and life, which are blamed on extreme fatness rather than unfairness. In the end, it's more liberating than oppressive, with bits of humor and a jubilant pageant takeover by beauty rebels to crown this unusual book about a fat character. (Fiction. 13-16) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.