2019 Book Review #5: Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
Finished Jan. 28, 2019, took seven days to read
4 Stars on Goodreads, but I would rate 3.5
Genre: Young Adult
Rating 2/5 for 2019 overall, /1 for Young Adult
I made the mistake of watching the Netflix movie first. This goes against a pretty big rule for me: I read the book first and watch the movie second. But with Dumplin' I had to watch it as one of my favorite Drag Race ladies was in the movie (Ginger Minj), and the book had a super long waiting list at the library…so I watched it. And the movie was great! But I wish I had read the book first as I think I would have enjoyed the novel so much more.
Willowdean, nicknamed Dumplin' by her mother, is an overweight teenager in Clover City, TX, which seems to be a stereotypical small town in the middle of Texas. This is the land of football, beauty queens, and barbecue. Willowdean has a best friend named Ellen (El for short) who has been by her side since they were kids and both discovered Dolly Parton. Willowdean's mom is the pageant director in the small town beauty pageant, and winning the same pageant as a teenager is her only claim to fame.
Long story short, Willowdean goes through a lot of personal strife with the loss of a loved one, fights with friends, drama with boys, and enters a turning point her in her life and decides to enter this same beauty pageant. The plot is very "young adult" but since I was a teenage girl once, I definitely felt her pain and angst at not fitting in with her perfect and more skinny classmates.
My main gripe with the book is that they take a really long time to set the scene for the novel. The pageant is not at all central to the plot, and really is not much of a backdrop for Wilowdean's journey into a confident adulthood. However, the pageant does set up a lot of drama between Willowdean and her mother. So come for the big hair, Dolly Parton, teen angst, and beauty pageants, but stay for the estrangement between mother and daughter.
Sigh. I really do think I would have liked the book more if I had watched the movie second. That is what I did for Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda and To All the Boys I've Loved Before, and I enjoyed those experiences so much more. So if you read this book, watch the Netflix movie SECOND!!!!