I’ve wanted to read Dumplin’ for over a year now, but because I’m a poor grad student, buying it wasn’t an option. My budget is limited and I don’t want to buy a book that I haven’t already read and loved.

Being an adult is hard.

Enter my trusty local library, and some minor begging and pleading (but, like, not in an undignified way). I got my mitts on this contemporary YA novel and I gobbled it up like it was a delicious basket of fries from Harpy’s. Om nom nom.

What Dumplin’ is about:

Willowdean “Will” Dickson—a.k.a. Dumplin’—is fat and fine with that. So she’s got big, jiggly thighs with cellulite and stretch marks. So what? Will’s bold and confident and likes herself just fine.

But when adorable co-worker Bo takes an interest in her, Will realizes that maybe she’s not as confident as she thought she was. In fact, she starts to feel downright weirded out that a cute, smart, funny boy would like someone with big, jiggly thighs.

Appalled at this new change, Will decides to get her confidence back by doing the most audacious thing she can think of: Entering the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet beauty pageant. In tiny Clover City, Texas, winning the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet pageant is the mightiest of status markers. And this self-proclaimed fat girl is out to claim that crown—and teach Clover City, and herself, a few things along the way.

My thoughts on Dumplin’:

Oh my gawd. This book. This book, you guys.

Dumplin’, in a word, is real. It presents no idealized vision of life. It deals with loss, and with insecurity, and with the painful fact that real life doesn’t wrap up all neat and tidy.

Will’s confidence in her body, particularly in the beginning, is the kind of razor-edged confidence born of forcibly not giving a h*ck. As the book goes along, you realize that she actually does give a h*ck. A lot of h*cks. About a lot of things. She doesn’t like that she cares this much about so much—or perhaps she does realize it, but doesn’t want to accept it.

The book was a lot less cheerful than I thought it would be. It was actually really poignant. On the surface, Dumplin’ is about body confidence; but underneath, it’s about love, loss, and feeling lost, alone, and left behind. I got so emotional that I had to set the book down and pick it up the next day.

Dumplin’ is poignant, cathartic, and heartwarming. Like life, it dips into sadness as assuredly as it rises into joy. Julie Murphy, my hat goes off to you.

Also, you owe me a box of Kleenex.

Have you guys read Dumplin’? What did you think? HOW GOOD IS THIS BOOK AM I RIGHT?? Or am I…wrong? Also, I see that there’s a sequel-slash-spinoff called Puddin’ which centres on Millie! Have you read it yet? Who would you rather have as a best friend, Willowdean or Millie?