Willowdean has some things that she'd like to say to her mom as well as to a large percentage of the school body where she attends. First off, "fat" is not a cuss word and she doesn't have to feel bad about saying it, especially not when describing her self. Second, just because she is fat doesn't mean that she is less deserving of any experience any other teenage girl gets to have. And finally she does not need to feel shame about walking down the street in her body, even if that body happens to have a bathing suit on it.
So, how to make her mom, former beauty queen and now head of the Miss Clover City Beauty Pageant, see any of these things, let alone any of her classmates? Also, how can she hold on to these truths when she feels jealous of her best friend? Ellen is tall, skinny and working at a store that doesn't even sell clothes in a size Willowdean could wear.
Then, there's the incredibly cute boy who works with Willowdean. He seems to look at her like Ellen's boyfriend Tim looks at Ellen, but it's hard to trust his intentions. She thinks he's too good looking to seriously like her. Which again is not holding true to those previously stated beliefs but does feel safer and likely to end in some sort of public disaster.
How can Willowdean reconcile the girl she wants to be (holds her head up in the hallway, doesn't care what other people think, has meaningful conversations with her mother about how much they both miss Willowdean's aunt) and the girl she currently tends to be (jealous of her best friend, often furious at her mom)? The answer includes entering the dreaded beauty pageant, visiting drag queens, making some excellent new friends and, through it all, listening to all the Dolly Parton.
This is a fun, rollicking good read with lots of kissing, sequins and great music. Willowdean is unabashedly herself and anyone who gets to know her wouldn't want her to be any other way.