Thursday, November 19, 2015
Willowdean is a gem of a character. She is beautifully realistic. She makes dumb choices. She makes smart choices. She apologizes for her mistakes. She is hilarious. She is unsure about herself. While there is a romance in this story, the great thing is that Willowdean is not defined by her relationships. Having a crush or making a new friend or even seeing things differently than her mother does not change who she is.
I sometimes look through some other people's reviews after I have finished a book to see if they loved or hated a book as much as I did. I was rather shocked to see a lot of readers railing against this book because Willowdean can be just as unkind to other kids as they are to her. As the book progresses, she gains some new friends in other girls who don't fit into the narrow box of "thin, gorgeous, straight, and able-bodied." And yes, at first, she is dismissive or mean in her head to those same girls. But I think we all do that. Even if Julie Murphy wrote Willowdean as "body-positive," it's not something that is perfect or consistent. She thinks that her body is great, except when she doubts it. She snickers at the perceived flaws of other students, but the point is that she does eventually befriend them. Being "body-positive" doesn't mean we don't notice what makes people different from us. It's that we don't let it define them or our relationships with them.
Dumplin' is a fantastic book. It's as funny and self-assured as Willowdean herself proves to be. This story reminds us that we are not what others think of us, whether we are teenagers or adults. In a world of seemingly endless cruelty, we need books like this to remind us to be kind to each other. It turns out we aren't as different as we might think.
By Julie Murphy
Balzer + Bray September 2015
From the library
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This sounds like a fun read. Might be a good one for over the Christmas holidays; I'll be wanting a book to make me laugh and relax. Thanks for the rec!ReplyDelete
I think it would be perfect for a comfy afternoon post-Christmas!! Let me know what you think. :)Delete
I've been hearing about this book for a while now, but yours is the first review I've read. I love what you mention about the inconsistency of body positivity - it sounds like a great read!ReplyDelete
It just felt so honest to me. I would be suspicious of a character who just sees everyone as beautiful - we all have to work to overcome our gut reactions to people.Delete
I really like your point about body positivity versus being a sort of "perfect" person. Willowdean isn't perfect, but she felt very real to me. And I love that the book ended up being a lot more about friendships and learning to get past some of those mean things we think about one another more than it was about romance.ReplyDelete
Yes, I loved that it was about so many kinds of relationships and romance was just one of them. Willowdean seemed like a real teen and I think that's why readers are enjoying reading about her so much!Delete
Great review! I'm excited to pick this up and for me, the fact that the main character isn't "perfect" all the time makes it that much more interesting and believable.ReplyDelete
Exactly! I hope you enjoy Willowdean's adventures. :)Delete