by Julie Murphy
I wish Dumplin' had been written when I was a teen. I don't know if it would have significantly changed by life, but it might have made growing up a large girl easier. I was never a badass, but I have always been fat. Like all teens, you go through awkward stages where your peers tease you (now called bullying), but when you're a large person, it never seems to stop. Society does not accept large people. I say large, because I have always hated the word fat.
I remember the summer of 1990 driving up to my parent's house and seeing a tall, dark, and handsome young man sitting in the front yard of the house next door. He was playing with a huge rabbit. I'm not sure what prompted me to walk over, unless it was the rabbit. I didn't know this person, but I was brave enough to go over and introduce myself. I was instantly attracted to him, but I knew it would never be possible for someone like him to want to be with someone who looked like me. I saw him outside a few times over the summer, but knew nothing would come of it. He was older and so much more intelligent than me. Again, why would he want to have anything to do with me? I was silly teenager ~ and fat! There's that word again, but it accurately described me (and still does). Thankfully for me, Walter saw through the person I saw in the mirror. We will celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary in May of this coming year.
Willowdean embodies the self conscious teen I was, as well as the middle aged adult woman I have become. I don't know if reading this book will help me to remove my own mental insecurities, but she has definitely put some things into perspective for me as we move into 2017.
I love the quotation, "I think you gotta be who you want to be until you fee like you are whoever it is you're trying to become." To me, it seems like a great mantra moving forward as we open the door to wonderful opportunities and possibilities of a new year. I also need to remember "...half of doing something is pretending that you can". I hope I can embrace my inner Dolly Parton (and Willowdean) to make 2017 the best year yet, no matter what anyone else thinks, says, or does to stop me.
Dumplin' was published in September 2015 by Balzer + Bray. I would highly recommend this book for middle and high school readers. Although the book is listed as #1 in the Dumplin' series, I see no evidence of a subsequent book.