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Publication Date: September 15th 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Goodreads Blurb: 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.
Presenting my first ever buddy read with none other than Evelina @ AvalinahsBooks. She has done this kind of review a few times already and you can check them on her blog. This is my first time doing a buddy read and I am so glad that we both enjoyed this book equally. This review will be an interview-style post where each one of us will answer 7 questions that we asked each other after finishing the book.
So the book for which we are presenting the review today is Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy. Before further delay, let’s get on with it 😀
Check out Evelina’s Buddy Read review of Dumplin’ on her blog!
What was your journey of feelings throughout this whole book? Did you instantly love it, or did it take time to get into it? Were you worried, or happy for the characters? How did your feelings change, as you were reading the book?
Well, my feelings for Dumplin’ can be just shown by this:
Yes, it’s right. It was not a 5 star read for me, but I totally loved it. I loved it right from the first page. Though it usually takes some time for me to get into a book, it was not the case with this one. And have I told you I like this kind of reads? 😀 For the beginning itself, I was right into a high school drama with some adorable and witty characters.
This is mainly a story about Willowdean (Will) Dickson, who is fat an decides to compete in the Miss Bluebonnet Pageant. My first feeling for Will was – I love this girl! Then came her best friend, Ellen and I loved her too. There was Bo (Will’s on-and-off boyfriend), Mitch, Hannah, Millie and other interesting characters. I have to say I loved almost all of these characters. But when you go into mid of the story, then you can feel that a few of them are outstretched especially Bo’s character. I think there was no clear focus given to his character as much it was required. But in the end, it was a book about Will and I am glad her character was well developed.
My feelings definitely changed for the characters during the whole journey but in the end, I felt that the execution was perfect and I left loving all of them.
Dumplin’ has a lot of diversity “going on”, but none of it is sugar-coated. It’s talked about freely, openly and sometimes harshly (simply ‘the way it is’). How did you feel about this? Did you prefer the direct and honest way of speaking about it, or did you find it hard to relate to?
Dumplin’ presents the story of Will who is fat and felt as if Julie Murphy has tried to portray some instances from her life too. So if you consider it as a #OwnVoices read, then you can easily relate to all the diversity. And sugar-coated? No, it wasn’t! Dumplin’ exactly shows what it is. I loved that Murphy didn’t try to write a character who tries to solve her issues, instead, Willowdean doesn’t solve her issues with losing weight. She’s like, fuck it, this is who I am and if you want to accept me, accept me as I am. I kept waiting for the scenes where she would try to lose her weight after her mother scolds her, but fortunately, those scenes never came!
Will’s best friend, Ellen is conventionally beautiful and she finds herself a bit jealous of Ellen sometimes. I liked how this was shown as a real stuff and was not at all sugarcoated. All the jealousy, competition, and stuff were shown really well. Then there were characters like Hannah, Millie etc. who were like real-life examples. They show us that not all can be beauty queens with perfect features and face. You have to accept who you are and live with it.
Did you feel the characters were well done? And who was your favorite character?
I guess I have already mentioned it. Yes, I loved all the characters. I think all the characters got their fair share of the story and were beautifully executed. I loved Will, Hannah, Millie, Amanda, Bo, Mitch Ellen and all others (i am sure I am forgetting any special character). I love how despite not being the main characters, they all get their own stories and felt as the necessary links in the story.
There is only one character that I wish had some fair ending. That is Mitch. My heart broke for him in the end. I really wanted a good ending for him, but I guess that was meant for him.
But my absolute favourite was Millie! I just loved her. Sometimes, I felt, she was even overpowering Will. She was fierce and strong headed. At many places, Will seemed confused about her decisions, but Millie? She was so determined about this whole pageant thing (yes she was also the part of the pageant) and even she give courage to Will at some point. GOSH, I really loved her.
The only problem that I had in terms of characters is that with the character of Will itself. Though I loved her, I think her character felt somewhat shallow to me? She has no goals of herself, nothing planned about her future and even she had no real talent of herself. If you see other characters, each of them was presented with some kind of talent except Will. I wish there were some depth to Will’s character.
Let’s talk about the romantic relationships in the book. How did you feel about their execution? Was it relatable, believable? Did you root for the characters and their feelings?
I am glad Evelina, this question came 😀 I so wanted to talk about this. So you must be wondering, why this book was not a 5 star read since I am just praising about this from the beginning? Well, the reason is this – romance and the representation of romantic relationships.
Millie was attracted to Bo and their relationship was going good, till she becomes self-centered? I know, the feelings and insecurities of a fat girl can come in the way, but I think that was overdone. She loses the boy she loves all because it was all about HER? Also, despite her insecurities, Will has another admirer, Mitch. He likes her and tried to become her friend but guess what she is not even okay with this. She becomes quite self-centered. There were actually some old good romance scenes (typical John Green’s style) which I wished to end well. But again, the insecurities of Will made the ends bad.
I really liked Bo’s character as a lover but then I guess the execution was not up to that point as it should have been. There was so much potential in his character but I guess he was overshadowed by Mitch.
So definitely, the romance was the weakest part of this book.
Did you notice that Dumplin’ reverses the ‘funny fat sidekick’ trope, by making a good looking and popular blonde the clumsy sidekick? Did you enjoy this? (I know I did!)
Yes totally! This was not a usual YA read which has a beautiful MC with a fat and funny friend, rather it was just opposite. Will was a fat girl with a beautiful friend. I really liked this reverse take. Murphy did an exceptionally good job with this. It is often difficult to portray a character having self-issues. But Murphy told that there is nothing to feel bad about how you look.
I loved how, despite being a fat girl, she was not left without any guy in the story. Though it was little overwhelming to see that she had two guys ready for her, but still it was a good representation for a change.
How did you feel about all the Dolly Parton lore in the book?
Well this GIF totally explains what was my thought on each mention of Dolly Parton.
Seriously! I had no idea who Dolly Parton was. It can make me the odd one out, but in my defense, I don’t usually listen too much of foreign music and know little about the celebrities there. I actually Googled her when her name already came 2-3 times in the book. I was actually bored in between because of all that mention. It reminded me of Lorelai and Rory from Gilmore Girls 😀
Do you have any expectations about the sequel, and will you be reading it?
Hell yes! I have so many expectations for the sequel Puddin’, after all, it includes the story of my favourite character Millie along with others. I am totally looking forward to it. I so wish that there is not such quirky romance. I am so waiting for its release.
I would really like to praise Julie Murphy for writing such an incredible story. I would like to recommend this book to pretty much everyone. I would like to pass this book to everyone who has ever made fun of someone just because how they look. This book gives you a simple but fierce message about loving yourself and accepting yourself the way you are.
Dumplin’(Will’s nickname given to her by her mother) and how she competes in the Miss Bluebonnet Pageant despite not being your typical pageant girl. This book is more than that. It is about a relationship of a girl with her aunt and her grief. It’s about the complicated relationship between mother and daughter. It’s about friendship and what happens when it goes through rough time. It’s about the fangirling moments. It’s about enjoying the little moments in your life. It is about first love and insecurities.
I would definitely recommend this book to everyone.
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy gives you a simple but fierce message about loving yourself and accepting yourself the way you are.
Don’t forget to check Evelina’s review on her blog!
Did you enjoy this review format?
Have you read this book? If yes, did you enjoyed this?
Have you read any other book by Julie Murphy?
What do you think about the portrayal of #BodyShame in YA?