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Willowdean Dickson is a typical girl in a typical small town in Texas. There is just one thing. She is the self-proclaimed fat girl who has always been comfortable in her own skin. She believes that a bikini body is a body with a bikini on it. With her best friend Ellen by her side everything just works until she takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast food joint. There she meets Private school Bo, a former jock, a hot jock at that. She isn’t surprised that she has a crush on him, but she is surprised that he might like her too. Instead of experiencing new self-assurance in a relationship with Bo, Willowdean finds herself drowning in a sea of self-doubt. So to bring back her confidence she enters the Miss Teen Bluebonnet beauty pageant—just to show that she belongs up there just as much as the twiggy girl does. And maybe she will surprise herself in the process.

Dumplin’ was not what I was expecting. I recently watched the movie based on this beloved book and loved it. But like most movies based on books it didn’t tell the full story. There is much more to Willowdean Dixon than the movie let on. I love the message of confidence that is present throughout the movie, but adore the struggle Willowdean has in the book. It is real and messy, no shortcuts or easy endings. I hope this book inspires you to face your insecurities head-on when they come up and to embrace the beauty of who you are. The book has a few more PG-13 moments than the movie; so if you have a preference, you have been warned. Enjoy Dumplin’ and dare to see yourself through a lens of beauty.