I’ve been trying to get more variety in the books I read by changing up the different genres with each book I read. Most recently I finished Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, both of which couldn’t be more different from each other but both were great reads that I definitely recommend.
Dumplin’ is a young adult novel that came out this September, and it’s a refreshing take on the awkward high school years everyone experiences. The main character, Willowdean, is a self-proclaimed and proud “fat girl” and Dolly Parton fan who is just trying to get through small-town life with her best friend Ellen and working after school at the local fast food joint with prep school-hottie/red lollipop enthusiast Bo. Willow’s head is a fun and familiar place to be, as the emotional battles and body issues that we all feel at one point or another are expanded upon through her eyes. The main struggle within the story is not only Willow accepting her figure and image at school with potential romantic partners added to the picture, but also the annual teen beauty pageant run by former winner, Willow’s mom. Throughout the book Willow must cope with the recent death of her obese aunt and her decision to enter the pageant with a fellow band of misfits, and it makes for a funny, messy, irreverent, and often disheartening read for fans of modern YA.
4 out of 5 stars
For something completely different, The Handmaid’s Tale is a classic dystopian novel that feels like a mix between 1984 and The Hunger Games. The basic setting of the story is that for some reason unknown to the reader, the U.S. – or at least the northeast – is in chaos and at war, and children are few and far between. The richer couples are comprised of the male Commander and his Wife who use a Handmaid to try and conceive a child. Offred, the novel’s narrator, is one of those Handmaids who remembers her life before her entire livelihood was based around becoming impregnated by her Commander. The novel switches between the dangerous, dry, and controlled life post-“apocalypse,” and the memories of her life before, a normal life that she took for granted until it was too late. As I was reading, I honestly wondered why they hadn’t made a movie out this book yet, and I highly recommend it as a staple for anyone who wants a mature, frightening dystopian read. I also recommend it to anyone who enjoys beautiful prose like this:
“We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom.
We lived in the gaps between the stories.”
4.5 out of 5 stars