Hi, y’all! I decided to do a Book vs Movie post instead of an outright book review because I started reading Dumplin’ a few days before the movie was to be released. Now that I’ve finished both the book and the movie, why not review both of them? Let’s jump right into it!
Dumplin’, The Book
Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) 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 Clover City beauty 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.
The Bookish Bro Says
I finished this book faster than I thought I would. Somehow, the story managed to suck me in and keep me interested. To be honest, it’s not the most funny or most amazing piece of YA contemporary writing but, maybe because I could somehow relate to what Willowdean was feeling and going through, it held my interest.
In the beginning of the book, Will was comfortable in her own skin but also insecure, both at the same time. I felt like she was okay with her body, okay enough not to do anything about it, but there are moments when she would feel bad about being overweight. Willowdean was floating in a kind of state where she doesn’t know who she wants to be yet. I can relate to that. That’s probably why the book kept me interested. I was curious to know how she would go through that stage of her life.
But, overall, I was underwhelmed by Dumplin’. The story slowly builds up but then the ending just fizzled out. The book talked about too many components. It ended up being messy, for me. There was Will’s love life, her relationship with her mom, her relationship with her best friend, her relationship with her dead aunt, her insecurities, her courage, her preparation for the pageant; I feel like Julie Murphy could have taken out some stuff from the book to make it more streamlined. She also could have made the ending better.
One thing I loved about the book, though, was that I found a lot of good quotes in it. I love how Murphy describes moments and emotions. Here’s a couple of examples!
My first kiss. It’s the fastest thing that lasts forever. – Willowdean
Like Goldilocks and her third bed. It’s just right. – Willowdean, on Mitch’s hand on hers.
Dumplin’, The Movie
Let’s move on to the Netflix adaptation of the same book. Dumplin’, the movie, stars Danielle Macdonald as Willowdean, and Jennifer Aniston as Will’s mom.
Like most movie adaptations, there are a lot missing in the movie from the book. But for this adaptation, it’s a welcome change. This is the streamlining I wanted for the book. There were missing elements from the book but the pacing was good.
In the movie, the focus on Will’s relationship with Lucy, her dead aunt, was magnified (as compared to the book) because there were no unnecessary make-out sessions behind dumpsters, or unimportant love triangles. I also loved how the book gave more significance to the drag queens that helped Will and her friends transform into beauty queens for the pageant. (Shoutout to Ginger Minj who was in the movie.) I felt like the book didn’t give them justice, so I’m thankful the movie did.
I feel like the movie did a better job of delivering the message of body positivity. Movie Will was a more toned-down version of Book Will (who kept judging others), and it made me sympathize with her more.
I’d also like to point out that the movie’s ending was WAY better than the book’s ending! Go watch it!
Julie lives in North Texas with her husband who loves her, her dog who adores her, and her cat who tolerates her. When she’s not writing or trying to catch stray cats, she works at an academic library.
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