Review: Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
Eileen Stevens (Narrator)
(Dumplin' #1)
Published September 15th, 2015 by Balzer + Bray
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

For fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell comes this powerful novel with the most fearless heroine—self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson—from Julie Murphy, the acclaimed author of Side Effects May Vary. With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

Dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom, Willowdean 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 Teen Blue Bonnet 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.

My thoughts…

“Perfection is nothing more than a phantom shadow we’re all chasing”― Julie Murphy, Dumplin'

Dumplin’ is the story of Willowdean Dickson, Dumplin’ as her mother calls her, an overweight girl from a small town that hosts the oldest beauty pageant in Texas, Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant. Will’s mother is a former beauty queen and every year helps run the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant. Will is still grieving the death of her aunt, who passed away due to complications of herself being overweight.

Will works at Harpy’s, a local fast food place. It’s there that she meets Bo, good-looking private school jock Bo. Of course, Will is attracted to Bo but hides her feelings, because what could Bo ever see in her. Later she is surprised when she finds out he likes her too. They begin spending time together after work, they keep their rendezvous between themselves. Will finds herself in self-doubt and insecurity, when Bo never tells her that he will be transferring to her school after summer break. Will quits her job and wants nothing to do with Bo any longer, she thinks other students will whisper about their relationship.

“I want to be with you,” he says. “But I can’t if you won’t let me.”“Why?” I drop my bag in the driveway. “Why do you want to be with this?” I wave my arm up and down the length of my body. Immediately, I hate myself for this. The only person making this about my body is me.“Because I like you. I think I might feel a lot more than that for you, Willowdean. How is that so hard to believe?”
― Julie Murphy, Dumplin'

Will doesn’t share anything about Bo with her best friend Ellen. Ellen and Will eventually have a falling out because, Ellen has found a new friend that Will doesn’t really care for.

While cleaning out her aunt’s room, Will comes across an old Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant entry form that her aunt never submitted. Will decides to honor her aunt by signing up for the pageant. Will wants to try something that her aunt had always denied herself because of her own insecurities about her weight.

“I've wasted a lot of time in my life. I've thought too much about what people will say or what they're going to think. And sometimes it's over silly things like going to the grocery store or going to the post office. But there have 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.”― Julie Murphy, Dumplin'

Once the word gets out that Will is entering the pageant, that gives “several other unlikely candidates” girls from her high school the encouragement to submit an entry as well.

I really enjoyed this book, it was a very positive story about of acceptance, body image, identity, and learning to love yourself. Why not 5 stars… the ending. It just ended. I did read that Julie Murphy will write a companion novel which follows supporting characters from the first book, months after the pageant, expected publication: 2018. Hopefully we’ll get more of Dumplin’ and Bo.

Happy Reading -J

“All the best things in my life have started with a Dolly Parton song.”― Julie Murphy, Dumplin'

1 comment:

  1. I'm looking forward to reading this one :) I have it on my TBR! Really should read it sometime soon, cause I need something fluffy and positive, and someone's already told me that this book is kind of like that.