Big Girl, You Are Beautiful: Six Post-Dumplin’ Reads

Willowdean, the protagonist of Julie Murphy’s Dumplin (2015), never set out to be the “Joan of Arc of fat girls.” Yet three years after Dumplin‘s release, Willowdean remains the poster child for fat positivity in YA, with readers of all ages ready to ride under her banner of self-acceptance and fabulousness. The novel’s film adaptation, starring Danielle Macdonald and Jennifer Anniston, airs today on Netflix, and as dedicated fans, we’re delighted to join the Dumplin revolution—and provide six titles to get future you through once you’ve inevitably binge-watched Dumplin several times in a row. The below books, linked to their Booklist reviews when available, star girls who kick butt, take names, forge friendships, and maybe fall in love, all while loving their bodies just the way they are.

 

“Beautiful, he says. Fat, I think. But can’t I be
both at the same time?” —Dumplin

 

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 Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell

Set in the ’80s—and filled with music from that period—this novel has already won over (and ripped out) the hearts of numerous readers. Eleanor and Park’s romance begins as a bus ride alliance. But soon, the relationship becomes a safe space for each of them to work through the awful and awkward parts of their lives, including the harassment Eleanor receives about her size.

 

 

 

“But that’s me. I’m fat. It’s not a cuss word.
It’s not an insult. At least it’s not when I say it.
So I always figure why not get it out of the way?” —Dumplin’

 

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 Leah on the Offbeat, by Becky Albertalli

Leah, best friend of Simon Spier (you may know him from Albertalli’s award-winning debut, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda), takes center stage in this sequel. It’s Leah’s senior year and she has a lot on her plate. In addition to dealing with college visits, the search for the perfect plus-size prom dress, and her band, Leah still hasn’t told anyone (except for her mom) she’s bisexual. To make matters worse, she may also be falling for one of her best friends. While so many of her pals are thrown off tempo by the future, Leah is just trying to figure out how to stay on beat. Leah, like Willowdean, is no stereotype; she fights the notion that fat girls must behave a certain way. She’s prickly, stubborn, emotional, and completely lovable all the while.

 

“I guess sometimes the perfection we perceive
in others is made up of a whole bunch
of tiny imperfections, because some days
the damn dress just won’t zip.” —Dumplin’

 

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Puddin’, by Julie Murphy

Anyone who’s read Dumplin’  is bound to be obsessed with supporting character Millie Michalchuk—and lucky for readers, Millie returns in this companion novel, this time in a starring role. Here, Millie grapples with chasing dreams, falling in love, and forming an unexpected friendship with dance-team captain Callie.

 

 

 

 

“There’s something about swimsuits
that make you think you’ve got to earn the right
to wear them. And that’s wrong. Really,
the criteria is simple. Do you have a body?
Put a swimsuit on it.” —Dumplin’

 

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The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles), by Amy Spalding

Abby runs a fabulous plus-size fashion blog, so when she lands an internship at her favorite local clothing store, she’s ecstatic. After all, the internship often leads to a paid job. Abby isn’t the only intern, though. Soon, she’s competing against—and working alongside—Jordi, a photographer she might be developing feelings for. Abby isn’t used to being photographed, but when Jordi turns the lens on her, Abby learns to see herself in a new light, through the eyes of those who love her.

 

 

“I hate seeing fat girls on TV or in movies,
because the only way the world seems to be okay
with putting a fat person on camera is if they’re miserable
with themselves or if they’re the jolly best friend.
Well, I’m neither of those things.” —Dumplin’

 

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To Be Honest, by Maggie Ann Martin

Savannah’s sister just started her freshman year of college, leaving Savannah alone with her mom, who’s still in the thrall of the time she spent on a reality weight-loss show. Savannah’s already juggling a new crush and breaking a story about a sports scandal at her high school, but now she must also dodge her mom’s comments about her weight. Even though the remarks sting, Savannah has another concern: her mother’s health in the wake of extreme weight loss. Like Willowdean, Savannah fights to love herself in spite of her mother’s more traditional beauty standards.

 

 

“All my life I’ve had a body worth commenting on
and if living in my skin has taught me anything
it’s that if it’s not your body, it’s not yours
to comment on.” —Dumplin’

 

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Undead Girl Gang, by Lily Anderson

When her best friend Riley dies, Mila refuses to believe it was by suicide. And though everyone urges Mila to move on, she instead performs a spell to bring Riley back to life. But playing with dark magic is never simple; Mila’s spell also brings back two mean girls who, like Riley, died under mysterious circumstances. Soon, the four girls bond in their attempts to catch their killer, and their attempts to hide the zombie invasion from the rest of the town. While Mila is teased for her weight, brown skin, and Wiccan practices, she remains tough as nails throughout, even when she’s grieving.

 

 

 

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Melody.Ekstrom@gmail.com'

About the Author:

Melody’s love of words has taken her on a variety of adventures, beyond the adventures on the page, including librarian, bookseller, literary intern, dramaturg, and script reader. Reading hundreds of books a year, she's constantly seeking that next literary fix.

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