Publish date- September 16th, 2015.
Publisher- Penguin Random House.
RRP- $17.99 (AUD)
(A Brief) Synopsis:
Willowdean is a self confessed fat girl and Dolly Parton fan. She may let her love for Dolly work at defining her, but her weight? It's a non issue, and she doesn't mind making sure everyone knows. Until she starts to fall for someone, and all her insecurities come to the surface. So she enters a pagent. Obviously she's going to rock it.
Thank you to Penguin for this review copy!
Image source: Penguin Books Australia.
What I thought:
Dumplin'. Oh, Dumplin'. Recently I commented that a review for my favourite book of the year was upcoming, and here it is. Dumplin' sets high stakes for the future of contempoary novels I'll read, and high stakes for the rest of the year.
Dumplin' tells the story of Willowdean, a girl who is brave, insecure, fierce, scared and not afraid to say what she thinks or let others define her by her weight. She is a character I stood alongside with complete joy and love, through good and bad. The development of her character was so strong, from this fierce, I won't hold for your shit character, to a girl who hated herself for becoming insecure and the things she wished she were not. And her honesty during all of it, the way she acted so that others didn't realise anything was differet, the way she forced herself to make it a non-issue rather than finding a way to address it, it was powerfully done. It resonated with me.
Now, Will isn't all good. She says some horrible things, doesn't forgive because she wasn't in the wrong and probably doesn't look at her actions as critically as the actions of others. But there's just something about her that had me only giving her a vague side eye, because I supported her all the way without ever realising it.
I did think with a yelp of joy that here would be a relationship, with Bo and Will, where the issues wouldn't brew, would be talked about before they could, and that wasn't, unfortunately, the case. The case was that drama could've been avoided. But eh. Anyone got the fact I love Will yet? (Also, there's a, ahm, love triangle? I didn't struggle with it, with the choice, and it was done kinda fantastically.)
The Dolly Parton night scene, btw? And all scenes involving those characters- drag queens, a bar owner in a I think relationship with one and a history with Will's dead aunt, those scenes? They were gorgeous. As was the friendship between Will, Hannah, Millie and Amanda, who band together because they aren't the "beauty standard" but they enter the pagent anyway. (There is also sexual diversity in there and it's done in a way that is so sodding better than lesbian best friend.) Will's mother, however, was... awful, a lot of the time. The kind of person who would tell her daughter that a diet would make her happy (as would a man! Yay!), but I loved Will for standing up to her and for herself. And for introducing me to Jolene by Ms. Dolly Parton.
Rating: Big explosion MIND BLOWN. FAVOURITE READ OF 2015!This book is complex and hard hitting and I needed it when I was younger but I also needed it right now. It's about more than a "fat girl entering a pagent" and more than falling in love desperately. And I'm so incredibly thankful for that. For the fact it takes honesty and hard words and friendships that slide apart and not necessarily back together and the fact that being fierce is wonderful but so is being vulnerable and sucker punches it to you.