A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dumplin' is a thought-provoking story of fat high school girl Willowdean's struggle -- not with her weight but with her ability to see herself as someone who's worthwhile and deserves happiness. The heroine is a great role model for self-empowerment, and there are lots of positive messages and lessons about not letting your appearance define who you are and what you do. There's some kissing and light making out, and teens talk about when it's right to have sex for the first time. Strong language includes frequent use of "s--t" and variations; other profanity is less frequent but includes "f--k," "a--hole," and "goddammit." There's one minor violent event with disciplinary consequences. Willowdean's mom gives her champagne once, and high school teens go to a bar, where one adult drinks to excess but the teens drink virgin cocktails.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Willowdean Dickson, a high school junior, has always been fat and happy. But when she starts falling for her cute coworker and he starts falling for her, she suddenly starts to question everything she ever thought about herself and her relationship to her body. Just as she's trying to get her self-confidence back, she has a huge fight with her best friend about entering the local beauty pageant. As if that weren't enough, Willowdean's frosty relationship with her beauty-queen mother (who gave her the nickname DUMPLIN') takes a nosedive when she starts to invade her mother's pageant territory. But Willowdean feels she has just as much of a right to participate as anyone, even if she knows she won't win. Can she survive the pageant, get her best friend back, and get the guy? And will she ever be comfortable in her own skin again?
Is it any good?
Smart, funny, confident, beautiful, and -- oh, yeah -- fat Texas teen Willowdean is a breath of fresh air. Author Julie Murphy brings an authenticity and universality to her heroine’s voice as Willowdean searches to restore her self-confidence. Even teens who've never been overweight will relate to Willowdean's insecurities and learn how to get past their own. Issues about insecurity that anyone can understand, as well as many specific to body positivity, are honestly and forthrightly presented in many ways, from funny to poignant to infuriating and everything in between.
Colorful, believable characters round out small-town Clover City, Texas. Teens will enjoy rooting for Willowdean and her misfit friends as they claim their rightful places in society as people who deserve respect and happiness.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about being fat. Do you think it's possible to be fat and beautiful? If not, why not?
If she could wave a magic wand and just be thin, do you think Willowdean would do it? Why, or why not? Is there anything about yourself you would magic away if you could?
How important did you think a person's weight was before you read this book? Did reading this book change your thinking about weight?
- Author: Julie Murphy
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Balzer + Bray
- Publication date: September 15, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 13 - 17
- Number of pages: 384
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: August 10, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.