By Haroula Barbounis
Adapted into a movie on Netflix, Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy is a book that addresses many insecurities that girls grapple with today. Self-confidence and being true to yourself are the two of the many themes in the book, which causes it to be engaging as well as empowering. The main character in the novel, Willowdean Dickson, is our plus-size heroine, who enters the local pageant in hopes of taking a stand in her small Texan town. Which oh-so-happens to be run by her beauty queen mom. Friendships are formed and tested as we see Willowdean, aka Will, show her town that it’s not all about having a Barbie-like body.
This book is truthfully and beautifully written, and it gives the reader a peephole on what is like to stand out in a crowd and be ashamed of it at the same time. The dialogue is spot-on, which might be the reason why it is very relatable. Compared to the adaptation, Dumplin’ as a novel goes much more in-depth about Willowdean’s life and its ups and downs. A page-turner, the plot-holes of this tale is very limited. However, is the characters that make this book. Thoughtfully developed and brimming with charisma, the characters of Dumplin’ create this dramatic story about being comfortable in your own skin. But don’t get me wrong. These characters are flawed and they have vulnerabilities. For instance, Willowdean’s mom, Rosie Dickson, is obsessed with diets and losing weight. Played by the iconic Jennifer Aniston, Rosie is appalled when she discovers her daughter is entering the pageant. And it also happens to be Rosie who gives Willowdean the nickname Dumplin’, much to Will’s chagrin.
And in addition, Dumplin’ also elaborates on other important themes, such as beauty and inner strength. The reader learns that it is the utilization of your inner strength that truly makes you great in life. And sometimes being beautiful on the outside isn’t everything. Being beautiful and seeking perfection in appearances at all time doesn’t necessarily make you successful in life. It is your choices and actions that determine the trajectory of your life. This what the reader learns as they dive into the novel known as Dumplin’.