Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
"Dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom, Willowdean has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American-beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . . until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.
Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all."- summary from Amazon
I loved Murphy's debut (and it came at a good time for me, going through chemo just like the main character) and was so excited to read her follow-up novel, especially after hearing so much buzz about it. This book did not disappoint- it is heartbreaking, beautiful, funny, emotional, empowering and so many other things that you would want in a novel. Willowdean is a wonderful main character for anyone to read about, root for, and empathize with; we all have our own insecurities, whether by ourselves or when we find ourselves navigating a new relationship like Willowdean does.
Overall, this is a fantastic new book from an emerging talent. I cannot wait to see what Murphy does next!
FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.