Paging all would-be pageant queens and Dolly Parton fans. Netflix’s newest movie, Dumplin’, a glitter-covered, heart-warming look at an outcast teenage girl who decides to compete for the crown in a Texas beauty pageant, features a performance from Jennifer Aniston as a former beauty queen and six new songs from country superstar Parton. (The singer already snagged a Golden Globe nomination for one of her songs from the movie.)
If you’ve streamed Dumplin’ and fell in love with Willowdean and her story, you’ll want to check out the book on which the movie is based.
Dumplin’ is based on a book by Julie Murphy
Screenwriter Kristin Hahn adapted the story from Texas-based YA author Julie Murphy’s book of the same name. The book came out in 2015 and was a New York Times bestseller.
Murphy’s book tells the story of Willowdean, a self-assured, overweight teen nicknamed Dumplin’ by her mom, a former beauty pageant queen. When Willowdean gets a job at a local fast-food restaurant and meets the handsome Bo, the two embark on a tentative relationship. But with her confidence suddenly wavering, Willowdean decides to enter the Miss Clover City pageant – which her mom runs — and show the world what she’s made of.
Reviewers praised Dumplin’ for its body-positive message and engaging story. While not based on a true story, Murphy has said that she drew on her own experiences growing up when writing Dumplin’ and that she hopes the book helps readers feel more comfortable with their bodies.
“Growing up I was always the biggest person in the classroom,” she told Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls. “I was always very aware of space and how much space I took up. We’re all too ready to tell women in our society how much space they can take up and that men should take up more space. At the end of the day I just want women to be comfortable with their bodies and know that they’re not born and allotted a certain amount of square footage. Your body is your body and you’ve only got one of them.”
What other books has Julie Murphy written?
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Dumplin’ was Murphy’s second book. Her first, Side Effects May Vary, came out in 2014 and tells the story of a teen recently diagnosed with leukemia who “vows to spend her final months righting wrongs,” only to have her plan for revenge backfire when her cancer goes into remission.
Murphy also wrote Ramona Blue, about a teen girl whose family lost everything in Hurricane Katrina. Ramona is a lesbian, but her life is upended when she finds herself falling for her childhood friend Freddie.
Her most recent book is Puddin’, a follow-up to Dumplin’ that’s also set in Clover City, Texas. This book focuses on Millie Michalchuk, an overweight teen who dreams of being a newscaster, and her burgeoning friendship with Callie Reyes, the popular captain of the high school dance team.
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