Thanks to Goodreads and its magical end-of-the-year Best of voting, I stumbled across this book. A skinnily-challenged teenage girl enters the same beauty pageant her mother won to try to finally try and earn her love. Intriguing, right? Now, I’m not from Texas, but I know they take two things very seriously down there – football and beauty pageants. And maybe barbeque. And Fixer Upper. But wait, I’m going down the wrong rabbit hole. Don’t mess with Texas.
Anyway, Willowdean (and please use your best Texas accent as you read that in your head) puts together a group of girls who don’t quite conform to the pageant standards of beauty. Initially, they join the pageant as a protest against these unrealistic social norms, but as they get further into the pageant process (remember we’re still in Texas – it’s a thing), like my girl Sandy B in Miss Congeniality, they actually start learning more about themselves.
I really enjoyed reading this book. Willowdean has a HUGE fixation with Dolly Parton. I’m not the biggest fan of the lovely Dolly myself, but I can appreciate that kind of devotion. Netflix just recently released Dumplin’ as an in-house movie starring Jennifer Aniston and Danielle Macdonald as Willowdean. I haven’t had the chance to watch yet, but it’s gonna happen sooner than later.
As a follow-up to her bestselling first book, author Julie Murphy gave us a sequel called Puddin’. It features fellow fat girl* Millie and the co-captain of the school’s dance team, Callie. We saw both girls in the first book, but now we get to see the world from their perspectives. Murphy describes the latest book by saying:
“When circumstances bring the girls together over the course of a semester, they will surprise everyone (especially themselves) by realizing they might have more in common than they ever imagined.”
If you’re like me, you’re thinking “Yeah right,” but the author did a good job weaving these two separate lives together. As much as I liked Dumplin’, I really liked Puddin’. It fleshed out the story so much farther than the first book. If you’ve ever felt less than pretty because you aren’t a size 00, you need to read these books.
Happy readin’ Dumplin’,
*As a long time member in good standing of the Not Skinny Club, I can say it. If you aren’t a fellow member, we prefer the term zaftig. It’s much more Wagnerian. Thank you.