The Indian Creek Upper School Library Blog

Tag Archives: John Green

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Willowdean Dickson, or “Dumplin,” as her mom calls her, is a self-proclaimed fat-girl and Dolly Parton fan. She and her mother live in Texas, the land of beauty pageants and greasy fast-food places. Willowdean is much more into the fast-food scene, working at Harpy’s alongside brooding hottie Bo. Her mom, a former beauty queen, is all about the Miss Clover City beauty pageant, allowing it to take over their home and her life as it draws near.

Everything seems peachy for Willowdean until she and Bo begin a secret relationship. Suddenly, Will can’t stand the way her body looks and feels, and her trademark confidence takes a major nose-dive. In order to show herself and her mom that she’s just as worthy as the skinny-minnies  who enter the Miss Clover City pageant, Will signs up, and accidentally brings some new friends along with her. Willowdean doesn’t mean to start a revolution, but she sure has one on her hands when people find out that she is going to compete for the crown. Can she keep her cool and gain back her confidence?

One thing that is really excellent about this book is how honest Willowdean is about how she views her body. Most days, she is perfectly comfortable with being the “fat-girl” in the room. If you were to ask her about her bathing-suit body, she would say, “Do you have a body? Put a swimsuit on it.” (Love the original artwork by Simini Blocker!)

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However, Willowdean has just a complicated relationship with her body as she does with the mysterious Harpy’s hunk, Bo. When Will’s and Bo’s relationship gets more physical, Willowdean’s confidence starts to crack and crumble right before the reader’s eyes. The way Willowdean deals with her self-consciousness is so real and heart-breaking; she not only begins to doubt herself and her own worth, but she also sabotages her relationships with the people closest to her.

Luckily, this book has an imperfect happy ending, not because it could have been written better, but because people are imperfect, Willowdean is imperfect, and the book is a realistic portrayal of real life, which is imperfect, whether you’re fat or skinny or in between.

Fans of Julie Murphy’s debut novel, Side Effects May Vary, John Green’s Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park will love this new novel. Come down to the library to check it out today!

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Greg Gaines just wants to get through high school without making any friends. For Greg, no friends = no enemies, so he stays under the radar, tries to be blandly nice to everyone without actually connecting with anyone, and spends his free time making films with this “co-worker” Earl. Greg kind of reminds me of Parks and Recreation’s Ron Swanson, minus the woodworking:

When Greg’s mother tells him that a girl from his school has been diagnosed with leukemia, Greg doesn’t really know how he’s supposed to feel. Bad? He feels sort of bad. He feels worse when his mom tells him that he should call Rachel and hang out with her. As Greg and Rachel become friends (or as close to friendship as Greg can manage), Rachel discovers more about Greg and Earl’s secret film-making careers and even manages to convince them to show some of their films to her.

When Rachel decides to quit treatment for her leukemia, Greg and Earl decide that the thing to do is to make a film for Rachel. After several false starts, they finally manage to create The Worst Film Ever Made, which creates a world of trouble for Greg and forces him to reconsider the way that he relates to the people around him, especially Earl and Rachel.

This is not your typical feel-good teen book. Greg says so several times in the novel, and it’s right there in the title: Rachel is dying. Despite the death and the painfully awkward social anxiety, this book is laugh-out-loud funny. Greg’s self-deprecating narration is hilarious and 100% honest. Earl’s straight-forward, tell-you-like-it-is manner is the perfect foil for Greg’s stand-offishness, and they make a great pair, even if Greg won’t admit it.

Although this book is about a girl with cancer, it is most definitely not a John Green tear-jerker; it’s full of profanity, lewd conversations and accidental marijuana ingestion. Greg doesn’t exactly become a better person by the end of the novel, and there isn’t a clear message other than “sometimes things suck and people die when you don’t want them to.” Still, if you’re looking for a book that will keep you laughing right up until the end with its irreverent humor, this is the book for you!