by Julie Murphy
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars
Willowdean (Will to friends, Dumplin’ to her mother) is surprised to find herself the object of attraction of her super hot coworker. Even though she knows she wants to start dating and be kissed, partly in an effort not to be left behind by her best friend Ellen, her self-confidence starts to slip as she thinks about dealing with the comments they would get because she’s fat. She has no trouble admitting it, or accepting herself, but when push comes to shove, it keeps her from a real relationship with Bo. Not that it was a fairy tale from the start, with Bo’s reserved nature leading her to be unsure where they stand. But as time goes on, Bo makes his feelings more explicit. Willowdean tries to date someone as big as she is, but the spark just isn’t there and she knows she’s kidding herself. Along the way she has to contend with a very real-feeling friendship that is going through some growing pains, and she even signs up for the town beauty pageant, the biggest deal since football in her small Texas town. Oh, and Will’s mom runs the pageant – as a former fat girl herself, Will’s mom is extra hard on her daughter to lose weight, never accepting her as she is. Add into this her still-raw grief over losing her beloved aunt Lucy a few months before, and finding new friends who get teased just as much as she does, and Willowdean has a lot to figure out. Luckily, she does it with grace and an ending just detailed enough to be satisfying, but not so much so that you can’t have an imagination.