Willowdean Dickson is fat and doesn’t care what anyone thinks about it. But she’s growing up in Clover City, Texas, where the church, high school football and the annual beauty pageant are all equally revered. Will’s mom is a former pageant queen who begins to tune her out as the event draws near. But with two potential boyfriends, a shaky relationship with her BFF and the usual crap from bullies, Will has nowhere to turn for advice.
Author Julie Murphy draws a clear distinction between Will’s confidence, which is largely unshakeable—truly, she’s awesome—and her fears about getting closer to hot boyfriend Bo. She has a lingering sense that people will wonder how she landed him, and so she takes unusual chances, aided by her love of Dolly Parton, her late aunt and several drag queens who know a thing or two about pageantry. As these pressures bring out Will’s worst as a friend and girlfriend, they also show a clear path to her best self.
Dumplin’ is inspiring while never lecturing, sexy but still classy, and may inspire you to roll down the windows and belt out “Jolene” next time you’re on the highway.