Welcome to our FIRST installment of #FirstReadsFriday where we give you a sneak peak of an upcoming book. Our first selection is Julie Murphy’s wonderful Dumplin’.
Clover City, Texas is the home to the oldest beauty pageant in Texas, the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant. This small town is also the home of one Willowdean Dixon, our outspoken and opinionated heroine, who also happens to be a self-proclaimed fat girl. Will doesn’t use the term in a self-deprecating manner, but as a way of categorizing herself in an unapologetic manner. Take her or leave her, she is “a fat badass” who also happens to L-O-V-E Dolly Parton and whose life might just be a yet unwritten Dolly song. As will says at the start of the novel, “All the best things in my life have started with a Dolly Parton song.” Most importantly, we get this novel, which starts with a Dolly quote itself.
For all her sass and frass, Will holds many of her insecurities deep inside—she’s not all that confident with her body when she looks in her mirror, her life-long best friend seems to want friends other than Will, her mother is barely present in her life e and her aunt (who practically raised her) just died 6 months ago, leaving her to feel orphaned in a world where one of her parents is still alive. To top that off, there is a boy, named Bo, who captures Will’s heart, but complicates her life and her feelings about herself at the same time. And when she isn’t dealing with those pressures, Will is faced with the unspoken agreement with her mother that Will is one of the breadwinners in her household and works at the local fast food restaurant called Harpy’s. Oh, and did I mention that it’s pageant season and Will’s mother, former pageant Queen, is also the director of the pageant?
This book has many strong messages that most contemporary YA novels I’ve read seem to lack. It strives to break body image, class and social stereotypes, but in a fun way, where the reader doesn’t feel weighed down by the severity of these themes. Julie Murphy even addresses sex in an age-appropriate and non-hysterical manner. There are drag queens galore and the discussion of the social acceptance of “beauty” in the guise of beauty pageants and bullying. All of this is represented with a little sprinkle of glitter, a side of sequins and a whole lot of sass. Also, this book is highly quotable. My favorite: “Who needs beauty sleep when you’ve got champage?”
Dumplin releases on September 15, 2015. We recommend you get on the wait list. Now.