A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Shows how lots of hard work and organization goes into putting on a beauty pageant. Dolly Parton's career, hit songs mentioned.
You can be beautiful and fat at the same time. There will always be someone better, prettier, thinner; stop chasing perfection. Go after the things you want, don't wait for them to happen. Outsiders have to change society's view of them by being present in society; they can't expect the same things everyone else has unless they demand them. You don't have to earn the right to enjoy life in public places by being conventionally attractive; having a body gives you the right to, for example, be seen in a swimsuit. Good friendships are durable, but don't let pride or stubbornness get in the way.
Positive Role Models
Willowdean, a high school junior, is a great model for learning to be comfortable in your own skin and that you and your body deserve love and respect. She's happy and confident despite society's constant attempts to marginalize fat people. She wants to be her own role model, and even though she has doubts and makes mistakes, she learns that she is fat and beautiful at the same time and that she shouldn't let anyone or anything cut her off from what she wants and needs to be happy. She learns what loyalty really means and to be unselfish for her friend's sake.
Violence & Scariness
A bully is kneed in the groin; the perpetrator is suspended and grounded.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kissing and light making out are described briefly. Teens discuss when it's right to have sex for the first time. Mentions of a type of song that "makes people rub their crotches together" and dry humping.
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"S--t" and variations used frequently. Less frequently: "ass," "a--hole," "f--k" and variations, "boob," "d--k." "Whore" in reference to a Dolly Parton role. Bullies make oinking noises and push up the tips of their noses around fat people.
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Products & Purchases
Diet Dr Pepper and Miller mentioned.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
High school teens go to a bar but aren't allowed any drinks by the owner. An adult drinks cocktails until his head slumps down. Mention of a past incident of getting drunk on wine coolers and a resulting hangover. Mom gives Willowdean champagne. Background characters with cigarettes mentioned once or twice.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.