Welcome to Pump Up Your Book’s Virtual Book Tour for The Dumpster ~ One Woman’s Search for Love
Nicole is in her twenties and has established herself in a successful career as a personal banker in Miami. She has never been married. She carries a few extra pounds, but is adorable. Still, she has body image issues and tends to embarrass herself when she gets nervous, like the time she told a blind date her entire life story.
Nicole grew up in Minnesota, the happy only child of nurturing parents, and still misses her home. She was particularly close to her grandfather who, sadly, suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. As his memories faded and it seemed that her grandfather pulled further and further away from her, Nicole began spending more time with her friends from school and the neighborhood. Eventually, she stopped visiting him altogether. A year later, he died and she was devastated — rocked with guilt for not having spent time with him when she had the opportunity. Shortly after his death, Nicole began acting out through drinking and sexual hookups, losing her virginity the day after her fifteenth birthday after raiding the liquor cabinet in her boyfriend’s home.
As the story opens, Nicole is planning a Valentine’s Day party. She also plans to have a private party later with her new boyfriend, Tom. Unfortunately, Tom has other ideas. He not only shows up to the party extremely late, he brings an unexpected and very unwelcome present with him: A DVD player containing his filmed break-up message to Nicole. Extremely drunk and distressed, Nicole immediately opens her bedroom window and hurls the DVD player into the dumpster which has been recently been moved immediately beneath the window, allowing the dumpster’s foul stench to fill the bedroom.
In actuality, Nicole only dated Tom for two weeks. He is symbolic of the problem with Nicole’s love life: She loves to party with her friends, and that leads to drinking to excess and having sexual encounters, but she has never learned to date, taking the time to get to know a man before becoming involved in a physical relationship. She is becoming increasingly lonely and jealous of her friends who are finding mates, settling down, and growing up. Nicole realizes that she is going to have to change her own behavior if she wants to enjoy a meaningful, lasting relationship.
Nicole has asked the building manager, Rick, to move the dumpster but, so far, he has refused. She decides she might as well take advantage of it and begins purging her apartment — and her life — with things she no longer uses or needs, lobbing them out the window to the dumpster below, not realizing that Rick’s apartment is directly adjacent hers and he can see her bedroom window from his own. Nicole does not like Rick, because every time she sees him, she gets the sense that he is laughing at her and that causes her embarrassment. But she is determined to get that dumpster moved away from her bedroom window . . . and get the garbage out of her life.
Author Becky Due says that The Dumpster “started as a dream. When I woke in the morning, I couldn’t stop thinking about the plot and the characters. The funny circumstances grew in my mind and within a few hours, I was at my computer writing my first draft . . . Some of Nicole’s most embarrassing situations were my own.”
The premise of the book is charming, with the dumpster parked immediately beneath Nicole’s bedroom window an apt metaphor for her abominable track-record with men and destined-to-fail approach to relationships. And Nicole, despite her drinking binges and promiscuity, is instantly likable and, in many ways, empathetic. After all, every woman can relate to Nicole’s body image issues and lack of self-confidence related to the fact that she is a bit “chubby.”
Nicole’s two best friends, Roxanne, the quiet school teacher, and Renee, the flamboyant hair stylist, are supportive and loyal friends, if sometimes too willing to indulge Nicole. And Nicole’s parents also provide drama, especially when her mother, who appears to be undergoing a mid-life crisis, comes to visit for a weekend and wants to party with Nicole and her friends as though she is their age and single. Nicole’s response to her mother’s inappropriate behavior is illuminating. It is as though she sees herself reflected in her mother’s actions and, for the first time, realizes that one aspect of her life — her partying and hookups — is neither attractive nor likely to allow her to achieve her goals.
Nicole determines to try dating men. For her, that constitutes a new approach to relationships. Along the way, she mets some interesting characters, including Frank, who is so self-centered that he does not offer to share his cotton candy, and Ernie, who is into Xbox games, hybrid cars, and vegans. They help her realize that she “thought she liked drinking, sex and junk food, but maybe in reality she didn’t have an identity.”
I think The Dumpster is just a feel good, have fun, laugh out loud, and enjoy-being-a-woman sort of book. Isn’t it time we all had a little fun?~ Author Becky Due
The action moves at a fast pace, making The Dumpster a quick, easy, and mostly enjoyable read, except for the fact that Due’s frequently crude style detracts from the genuine affection she evokes for Nicole in her readers. Due often, especially in the early chapters of the book, injects “too much information” in the form of unnecessary and largely distasteful descriptions of characters and their behavior. For instance, it would have been sufficient to say that Nicole was relieved when the home pregnancy test yielded a negative result. A step-by-step account of the manner in which Nicole took the test could and should have been omitted. Likewise, Due succumbs to the equivalent of a junior high school boy’s idea of humor when describing some of the antics of Nicole’s friends, Roxanne and Renee, or explaining Rick’s prolonged absence from Nicole while the two are at a restaurant. Nicole also has an unfortunate rhyming nickname for Rick. Had Due elevated the tone and quality of her writing, the book would have been a more pleasant read.
Nicole gains self-confidence and embarks upon a new romance that seems promising, even though her resolve to take things at a slower pace with her new love interest only lasts for a couple of “dates” before she beds him. Thus, Due’s tale about a young woman in search of self-esteem and the ability to respect herself so that others will also see and respect her inherent value is compromised by the speed at which Nicole leaps
The Dumspter makes the point that no one is going to love you if you don’t first learn to love and accept yourself. Despite its flaws, The Dumpster provides frothy entertainment and some laughs, thereby achieving Due’s goal of delivering a “cute, funny book” to her readers.