Hello and welcome to our second month of the Circles of Change Book Club!
We hope you were able to get your hands on a copy of “Dumplin’” and that you’ll join us either online on Instagram for discussions, or if you live in the Syracuse area, that you’ll join us on February 15 at 5:30 PM at Cafe at 407 for the first meeting of our Liverpool Circles of Change Book Club. Please RSVP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
There will be live evening discussions on Instagram on February 8 and 22, in addition to the comment-based discussions on those day's pics, as well as a pic on February 15.
And let us know if you’re going to host your own in-person book club! We’ll send you some host swag for you and your club members. And don’t forget to use the hashtag #cocbookclub or #circlesofchange while you’re showing off your reading and book club pics on Instagram.
I also want to share the words of an author who has so eloquently, and coincidently captured the reasons why I think this book club is so important. In the 10th anniversary edition of “Thirteen Reasons Why” Jay Asher includes a special introduction about why he wrote this book and the impact that it has continued to have over the course of a decade. I encourage you to reflect on these words this month and over the year to come as we join each other in these bookish adventures.
More than ever, we need to discuss the way we treat each other – and ourselves – and make those discussions routine. Books, as you know, are wonderful way to do that. People can use a piece of fiction to open a conversation that is otherwise hard to begin. Sometimes it's between friends, sometimes it's between a teen and their parent, or a teacher and the class of students, or a librarian and a book club. People involved in these discussions often tell me how wonderful it is to see everyone sharing their thoughts and experiences (which, of course, is the only way to better understand each other).
I guess it's sometimes easier to talk honestly about fiction than ourselves. I know it is for me! We may get angry at a character, and to justify that anger, we compare our reaction to something in the real world. Or we argue about what a character should've done, which just happens to be what we would do (at least what we tell ourselves we would do). So when we talk about fiction, we're revealing ourselves.
Now on to the questions!
These are just a few questions to start with, you can use all of them, none of them, and we, of course, encourage to come up with your own additional questions in our discussions online and in your own clubs. (There is a downloadable version available HERE)
1. How do you feel about how much Willowdean’s mother places her sense of worth in other people’s opinions?
2. Why do you think that once Willowdean began a romantic relationship with Bo that she felt less sure of her body and started to engage in the kind of judgement she was previously proud to shy away from?
3. Willowdean asks how she can have both days where she is self conscious and days when she genuinely doesn’t care about what her body looks like. What would your answer be?
4.What does it mean to you to “be your own role model”?
5. What would it look like to accept that sometimes we still think and feel cruel things, like when Willowdean feels inner-glee over the girls who come out shaken up by the interview, but that those moments don’t have to define us?
6. What would your ideal beauty pageant look like?
7. Again and again characters who are the happiest or the most satisfied are those who are comfortable in their own skin. Ellen, Dolly Parton, Millie- they are all proud of who they are. Would you say that confidence is one of the biggest aspects of beauty? If so, why?
8. Did you notice that Willowdean’s specific weight or clothing size was never mentioned? Why do you think that is?
9. "You don't deserve to win anything or be in any pageant until you make the effort and do the work. Maybe fat girls or girls with limbs or girls with big teeth don't usually win beauty pageants. Maybe that's the norm. But the only way to change that is to be present. We can't expect the same things these other girls do until we demand it."
This quote reminds us of Circles of Change. What kind of “norms” do you want to change?
Don't read on if you haven't read the book yet!
Quotes we love:
“But that’s me. I’m fat. It’s not a cuss word. It’s not an insult. At least it’s not when I say it.”
“I've wasted a lot of time in my life. I've thought too much about what people say or what they're gonna think...there of 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. But you don't have to bother with that nonsense. I wasted all that time so you don't have to.”
"’… And who the hell was that twiggy bitch?’ As soon as it's out of my mouth I regret it. All my life I've had a body worth commenting on and if living in my skin has taught me anything it's that if it's not your body, it's not yours to comment on.”
“My body is the villain. That's how she sees it. It's a prison, keeping the better, thinner version of me locked away. But she's wrong. Lucy's body never stood in the way of her happiness. As much as I will always love Lucy, it was her own decision to stay locked up in this house.”
“Perfection is nothing more than a phantom shadow we're all chasing.”
“Sometimes figuring out who you are means understanding that we are mosaic of experiences. I'm Dumplin. And will and Willow Dean. I'm fat. I'm happy. I'm insecure. I'm bold.”