This book has all the delightful tropes that encompass a hardcore YA. This book is the definition of YA - so naturally, I had a lovely day reading this in my garden. Willowdean Dickson (nicknamed Dumplin' by her mother) is our main character, a big girl with all the typical troubles of a teenage girl: bullying, boy drama, fallouts and jealousy with her best friend and a serious obsession for Dolly Parton.
Set in Texas, Willowdean works at a fast food restaurant after school and meets a boy called Bo (us English will never understand what this name is short for). Romance ensues, and heartache, causing her to enter a beauty pageant which inspires other girls to sign up too despite their beauty not following the traditional standards.
There were a couple red flags that cropped up for me. Generally speaking, the main character is body confident and accepting of herself. However, following a rocky moment in her relationship and distance from her best friend, she drastically changes her opinion of herself. There are quite elaborate descriptions of body shaming which made me feel uncomfortable although I expected this when picking up this book. It also didn't sit too well with me that she only decides to enter the beauty pageant after she goes through a break up and no longer feels confident in her body (although this does seem like a realistic way for an insecure teenager to feel). I definitely enjoyed my time reading Dumplin', and seeing as I own the sequel, I definitely plan to get to it at some point. Fans of lighthearted, contemporary YA will definitely find this book is right up their street. For me, I liked it, but it won't get over a 3.5 star rating as it's just not my preferred genre.
Initial Prediction: 3.5 stars
Final Rating: 3 stars
Publication Date: 15 September 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
# of Pages: 371