Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: September 15, 2015
Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.
Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.
With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.
Because of the hype, I managed to avoid Dumplin‘ for a good four years. I’m always scared when I go on Goodreads and out of 38 friend reviews, the average is four stars. But after enjoying Julie Murphy’s middle-grade novel Dear Sweet Pea, I decided to suck it up and get on with it, and I’m so glad I did. Dumplin’ ended up being so much better than I’d expected!
I think, above all else, Dumplin’ is a really inspirational novel. Willowdean knows that she’s fat, and she knows that it doesn’t make her undesirable. She’s had it with society’s ideas that she should be ashamed of her body or try to hide. But that doesn’t mean that she never gets self-conscious. I felt like, while definite inspiration, Willowdean’s feelings about her body were also really realistic.
The romance I could honestly take or leave. The majority of the book is spent in this weird love triangle that I really could have done without. Still, the end relationship was very cute and I don’t really have any complaints about it, once it’s finally settled.
I ended up liking Dumplin’ so much more than I’d expected and now I just feel like I need to watch the adaptation.
Puddin’ by Julie Murphy
Publication Date: May 18, 2018
It is a companion novel to Dumplin’, which follows supporting characters from the first book in the months after Willowdean’s star turn in the Clover City pageant.
Millie Michalchuk has gone to fat camp every year since she was a girl. Not this year. This year she has new plans to chase her secret dream—and to kiss her crush. Callie Reyes is the pretty girl who is next in line for dance team captain and has the popular boyfriend. But when it comes to other girls, she’s more frenemy than friend. When circumstances bring the girls together over the course of a semester, they will surprise everyone (especially themselves) by realizing they might have more in common than they ever imagined.
Shortly after finishing Dumplin’, I decided I might as well read its companion novel, Puddin’, which features one of Willowdean’s pageant buddies.
I was immediately skeptical of this book because of how much I disliked Callie from the beginning. She’s portrayed as a really self-centered person who feels like the rules shouldn’t apply to her. She’s brash, she’s blunt, and she’s flat-out rude a lot of the time. Luckily, the book focuses a lot on Callie’s personal growth, which made most of that awful behavior worth it. Millie, as always, was great. I really felt for her and wanted her to achieve her goals. The main conflict between Millie and Callie was a little drawn out, but that’s pretty much my only criticism with this book.
Honestly, both Dumplin‘ and Puddin‘ were unexpectedly great and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend either one.
Have you read either of these books? Are they on your TBR?
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