Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy — Willowdean knows she doesn’t have the perfect body or the prettiest smile, but that doesn’t stop her from entering the town’s Miss Blue Bonnet Beauty Pageant, hoping to show the world that she deserves to be on stage as much as any other girl that enters.
For a book centered on delivering a message on body positivity, sometimes there is more body-shaming than praise. Willowdean is sassy and sweet and is described as being ‘comfortable in her own skin’, but that doesn’t ring true throughout most of the book because she continually introduces herself as the ‘resident fat girl’ and deals with a lot of low self-esteem issues as well. Despite that, there have been parts where I find myself nodding and thinking, yes… that’s me. Like the time when Willowdean’s Aunt Lucy was giving her some advice:
“I’ve wasted a lot of time in my life. I’ve thought too much about what people will say or what they’re gonna think. And sometimes it’s over silly things like going to the grocery store or going to the post office. But there have been times when I really stopped myself from doing something special. All because I was scared someone might look at me and decide I wasn’t good enough…”
I have the exact same social anxiety/self-confidence issues as I’m sure so many others have to deal with everyday. I love the fact that these issues are being made aware and that Murphy gives tidbits of advice through wonderful characters that you wish were real.
I didn’t mind the little romance, despite the fact that it was maybe mildly toxic. Also, a good amount of Dolly Parton was thrown into the mix so I guess you can’t really complain.
Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson — When Calamity came, it gave ordinary men and women superpowers. These people were called Epics, but instead of using their powers for the greater good, they became malicious villains, ruling different cities using brute force and fear. The worst of the Epics was one named Steelheart, who is said to be indestructible. But David has seen him bleed. And he wants to exact revenge on his father’s death.
There is so, so, so much praise for Sanderson. Being that this is my first dip into his work, I tried to push away any of the hype that has been associated with his books. The first half of the book was slow-going. There was a lot of meticulous planning and laying out the blueprint of the book, but I trucked on and discovered that the second half was completely plot driven, which I appreciated because once I was done with the book, all I could think of was, Wow. The minor kinks in the first part of the book dissipated from memory and I went onto Goodreads to add the sequel to my to-be-read pile.
That being said, it still has its flaws. David is a socially awkward character who half of the time didn’t seem to be all that serious so taking into account my annoyance with that particular character as well as the missteps in the first half of the book, I give Steelheart ★★★
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead — Miranda and Sal have been best friends since they were toddlers. They are inseparable. Until one day Sal gets punched by a kid for no apparent reason and stops talking to Miranda. Then, to make matters worse, a key to the apartment she lives with her mother goes missing and mysterious notes addressed to Miranda start appearing, saying things like ‘I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own’. It all leads Miranda to believe that only she can prevent a tragic death from happening.
Y’all, I must say that this is probably one of the best children’s books I’ve read in a long time. The events that played out in this book is incredibly thought out. Please read it. You will only understand if you read it. It will all make sense!!!