Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

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Book Title: Dumplin’
Author: Julie Murphy
Published Date: September 15th, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: YA Contemporary
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Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads
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.

Disclaimer: I received this book as an e-ARC from Balzer & Bray via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.

Review
I loved Julie Murphy’s debut, Side Effects May Vary, so I was excited for this book. I was so excited for body positive messages, and confidence building.

What I wasn’t expecting was how funny Willowdean was. There were parts throughout the book that had me laughing until my sides ached. She had such a healthy outlook on her own life. Her weight wasn’t an issue for her, unlike for her mom. Her mom truly believed that because of Willowdean’s weight, she’d never find a boyfriend, never be truly happy.

“News flash Mom: A man will not cure my troubles.”

Yet, Willowdean does want someone to kiss, to cuddle and to be romantic with, whatever that entails.

“I want a person to kiss hello”

Willowdean also begins to feel awkward around her best friend Ellen. Ellen is preparing to have sex with her boyfriend for the first time. Willowdean sees it as this really big thing that’s about to happen for her best friend, and she feels left out in a weird sense. Like Ellen is so far ahead of her.

“Having sex doesn’t make you a woman. That is so freaking cliche. If you want to have sex, have sex, but don’t make it this huge thing.”

Willowdean also had an aunt Lucy who died before the book began. Lucy had been significantly obese all her life and had never been unable to lose the weight.

Aside from their weight issues, there was something else that tied Lucy and Willowdean together: Dolly Parton. I love country music but I had never listened to a lot of Dolly Parton’s music until I read this book. Now I’m on a serious Dolly Parton kick.  Ellen and her family were also fans of Dolly Parton. That was part of what brought Willowdean and Ellen, together.

Willowdean’s mom was so insistent on getting rid of Lucy’s things at certain parts in the book and it really mad me mad and it made me upset to see Willowdean so upset about it. I really wasn’t a huge fan of Willowdean’s mom whose name I am totally blanking on right now.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the romance. I tried to see what Willowdean saw in Bo, and he just didn’t appeal to me. I did love his step mom Loraine, though. She was warm, inviting and accepting of Willowdean. I’m not a fan of love triangles at all and this one was weird because Willowdean was bouncing back and forth between Bo and Mitch. I hated the way she treated Mitch. It was like he was her backup guy, someone she turned to when she didn’t think things with Bo would work out.

I also was not a huge fan of how Willowdean treated Ellen when she also signed up for the beauty pageant. I understood why Willowdean wanted to have just this one thing to herself, but I also understood that Ellen wanted to participate. They both had a hand in that ugly fight that began long before the pageant even started.

I did like the friends that Willowdean made. Hannah, Millie & Amanda. They were the social outcasts of tiny Clover City, but each of them was brave enough to try something new. To try and break the barrier of what is considered beauty. I do think Amanda was my favorite though. She was the most reluctant to do the pageant, but she did it anyway.

I did enjoy this book, and I’m really glad the pageant wasn’t a huge part of it. I know I’m probably the minority in that. I am thrilled that accepting yourself, loving yourself and friendships were such big parts of this book. I am going to give this one 4 stars. I do think people should read this book.

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