Dumplin' prededes Puddin', which I adored. The lovable protagonist of Puddin' is a minor character in Dumplin', and a minor character from Puddin', Willowdean Dickson is the eponymous Dumplin'. Confused? Don't worry about it. Read the two books in which ever order you prefer. I typically prefer to go in order, but I survived having read the second book first, and even ended up liking it better.
Dolly Parton plays a prominent offscreen role, even lending a quotation to the epigraph.
Find out who you are and do it on purpose.
Why is Puddin' protagonist Millie so lovable? It's sort of like the fandom around Barb in Stranger Things.
She wears shirts with puppies and kittens and not in an ironic way.
Dog bless Millie. Read on for southernisms like "I have the manners of a cat in a box of bubble wrap." If you desire a visual:
And lovely observations like this one
My first kiss. It's the fastest thing that lasts forever.
This book is romance-y, but like Puddin', the real emphasis is on female friendship and being your own role model. The girls get encouragement from a drag queen who is coaching them for a beauty pageant.
Lee sits up. "It got better," she says. "Look at me. I'm living my dream. I'm in love. I'm happy. But I waited for that to happen to me. And y'all are making it happen now. Y'all are going for it.
Willowdean wants things to be better now, too, for competing in a beauty pageant as a fat girl to be normal, not brave. She's also after my heart with this sentiment.
She glances up at me, and takes note of my current state. "There is so much wrong with this picture."
I pour a cold cup of coffee and pop it into the microwave. "I guess if by wrong, you mean right, then yeah.
"Whens the last time you showered?"
The microwave dings, "Showers are so subjective." I shrug.
SHOWERS ARE SUBJECTIVE STINKERS.
Willowdean is forced to recognize other people's challenges, too, when one of her fellow contestants says "You try being the half Dominican lesbian with buckteeth in this town, okay?" So it's not all #whitegirlproblems.
And for the final glory, there's a reference to Willowdean's mom (to be played in the movie by Jennifer Aniston) having hot flashes. Yes, ma'am!