I’ve been on pins and needles to see Willowdean Dixon perform her heart out to the soundtrack of Dolly Parton on Netflix ever since the trailer first dropped last month. And now that I’ve seen the movie, I just can’t get enough! If you’re feeling the same way, these 10 Dumplin’ read-alikes are the perfect reading list after watching the movie. Willowdean would approve!
If you love the characters…
Puddin’ by Julie Murphy
Obviously, Willowdean “Dumplin'” Dixon is one of the highlights of Dumplin’—both the book and the movie. And the good news is, she makes another literary appearance in Puddin’, Murphy’s companion novel to Dumplin’. And you might even recognize the starring characters of this novel, as well! Even though Willowdean is more of a secondary character in this book, Millie and Callie’s story of unexpected friendship, body acceptance, and following your dreams should still appeal to any fans wanting more of their Dumplin’ fix.
If you want to see more characters overcoming prejudice…
Here To Stay by Sara Farizan
Although the issues Bijan is facing in this lovely book by the author of Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel and If You Could Be Mine are very different from Willowdean’s, they’re both teenagers trying to overcome prejudice and negative stereotypes. For Will, it’s her unabashed confidence in being fat, and for Bijan it’s his ethnicity. And his show stopping moment has more to do with basketball than pageants, but this book is still full of just as much heart.
If you want more body positivity…
The Summer of Jordi Perez by Amy Spalding
Fat girls deserve romcoms and fashionista moments just as much as anyone else, and in The Summer of Jordi Perez Abby gets that and so much more. Abbey Ives is a fat girl fashionista with a fashion blog and dreams of making it big in the fashion industry—but first she needs to land the summer internship at her favorite boutique. But when she has to share the spot with another intern, rivalry soon turns to friendship and friendship turns to feelings.
I love that Jordi gets to be both confident and insecure in this book—much like Willowdean’s journey to reclaim her confidence in Dumplin’. And just look at that cover: it never fails to put a smile on my face.
If you want another fat-positive romance…
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Another romcom featuring lots of fat-positivity! Like Will, Molly has her doubts about getting her perfect romance as a fat girl. She’s had lots of crushes—twenty-six, to be precise—but she’s never been in love. Or even been in a relationship. She’s looking for the perfect guy and thinks she’s finally found him…but then she meets Reid, her chubby, awkward, Tolkien superfan coworker—and hello crush number twenty-seven.
I love that both Molly and Reid are chubby, and that even though Molly struggles a lot with her self-confidence, she learns to be more comfortable in her own skin. And it’s not the only book by Becky Albertalli featuring a badass fat protagonist: Leah on the Offbeat checks off all those boxes as well.
If you want another girl going for the crown…
Winning by Lara Deloza
Alexandra Miles is going to be Homecoming Queen, come hell or high water. Her ambitions go a lot farther than a simple high school crown, but it’s the first step in her plan for total domination. Then new girl Erin Hewett arrives. Preppy, popular, perfect—everything that could steal the crown right out from under Alexandra. And she’s not about to let that happen. Homecoming may not be the Miss Blue Bonnet Pageant, but it certainly takes a certain competitive spirit. Especially when you’re planning on sabotaging your competition. Lots of girl power, scheming, and messy friendships.
If you want a sweet, Southern romance…
Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown
Will and Bo may be the cutest thing since Dolly Parton, but if you want more sweeter than sweet tea southern romance, Jo and Mary Carlson might just do the trick. Joanna Gordon has always been out…until her she moves from Atlanta to a small, conservative town when her dad gets remarried, and he asks her to be a little more careful. Which seems like a small price to pay for only one year before graduation. Especially considering he’s agreed to let her start a teen show as a part of his radio ministry—even discussing difficult topics like sexuality. And it might not be so hard if Mary Carlson didn’t exist. Especially, when Mary Carlson seems to have just as big a crush on Jo as Jo does on her.
If you want a story about a mother and daughter overcoming issues…
To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin
The relationship between Willowdean and her mother is complicated and goes through a lot of growing. Savvy and her mother have a similar uphill climb. Like Will, Savvy is a proudly self-proclaimed fat girl. And also like Will, her mom struggles to accept her daughter’s weight. Ever since Savvy’s mom went on a reality weight loss show she’s been obsessive about exercise and healthy eating. For once, Savvy just wants to feel like her mom accepts her for who she is. But with her sister off at college and the two of them fighting more and more, that doesn’t look likely. Fortunately, she’s got a big story to break for her journalism class and a mega crush on the new guy at school to distract her.
If you want more plus-sized characters getting to be the star of their own story…
Final Draft by Riley Redgate
This book features a sci-fi writing, queer, biracial, Ecuadorian, plus-sized, anxious protagonist, and I am here for it. Laila’s journey to self-acceptance is very different from Willowdean’s and involves more writing assignments than tiaras and Dolly Parton drag shows, but it’s still a really wonderful book about a plus-sized girl getting to come into her own. And it also features an equally adorable romance, so there’s that, too.
If you want complicated but incredibly supportive friendships…
Not the Girls You’re Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi
The highs and lows of friendship are important to Dumplin’s story, and when it comes to complicated—but enduring—female friendships, look no further. Aminah Mae Safi’s story about girlhood and cultural identity and valuing friends above all else—even when it isn’t easy—is perfect for anyone wanting more of that depth we see in Will and Ellen’s relationship. Lulu and Lo and Audrey and Emma will steal your heart.
If you want more from Julie Murphy…
Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
There’s already one other book by Julie Murphy on this list, but if you just can’t get enough, you might branch out and try Ramona Blue. Like Will, Ramona can’t help but stand out. She’s the only blue-haired, queer girl in Eulogy, Mississippi, so it’s kind of inevitable. It’s a story about identity and coming into your own—much like Dumplin’ though that journey manifests in very different ways.
For more great reading for Dumplin’ fans check out these 5 fat-positive YA novels, some fat-positive queer YA books, these fun YA rom-coms, and these 6 books to read after watching To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (because let’s be honest, if you loved one movie, you’ll probably love the other).