DUMPLIN’ by Julie Murphy | Adorkable with a quirky romance!

Book review: Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

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Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
Publication Date: September 15th 2015
ISBN13: 9780062327185
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 384
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.

Book tag: Young Adult
Young Adult
Book tag: Contemporary
Book tag: Fiction
Book tag: Feminism
Book tag: Family
Book tag: Romance
Book tag: Cover Love
Cover Love


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.

hmm interesting Gif


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 😀



Evelina’s questions

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:

It's not like deep love meme

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?

Hell yes meme

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.

How Romantic meme

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.

Get that Gun now meme

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?

Want it now meme

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.



Final thoughts

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.



Overall rating

4 Stars rating @FlippingThruthePages



Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

Don’t forget to check Evelina’s review on her blog!



Let's Chat

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?


Blog signatuure


  1. Evelina @ AvalinahsBooks

    I feel like you did a MUCH better job than me at this review 🙂 (I was very tired when I wrote mine xD) great review!!

    I also felt really bad about Mitch! Poor Mitch… but it happens. It’s a really realistic situation.

    Actually, I am not a fan of romance in books 😀 which is why the lack of romantic scenes was perfectly fine for me… because I felt like romance was the least important part of the story here 🙂

    And you seriously didn’t know Dolly Parton? XD I don’t think it’s her music I knew her from. She’s sort of a meme! She’s kind or really funny xD nobody listens to her in my country either, but everyone just sort of knows her I guess xD (I mean Google the pic of her. The figure. The hair xD unforgettable)

    Thanks for doing the buddy read with me 🙂

    1. Post

      Haha thanks! I am glad you liked my review 😃 Yeah poor Mitch! But yes it was realistic.
      Ahh I guess you are more of a sci-fi kind of person than the romance one 😜 But I love romance, so when it was quoted as “contemporary romance” (which is my favourite genre), I obviously had some expectations on that front 😊

      Yes, I seriously didn’t know her 🙈 But then I googled her and read about her 😬 I wish someone told me before reading this book 😂 But I can totally get the fangirling moment in the book.

      And thank you too for doing this with me. This was totally a fresh perspective of doing reviews and I hoping to doing it myself more often. If I am allowed to do it?? And of course with you too if we come across reading the same book ❤️

  2. Aimee (Aimee, Always)

    This is absolutely lovely, Sim! And I adore how you guys crafted your reviews with questions to each other! <3 I LOVE books with important themes, and the ideal body weight issue is so common nowadays, and it sounds like Dumplin' dealt with it splendidly. And it's so fabulous when you love a book from page one! <3

    – Aimee @ Aimee, Always

    1. Post

      Thank you Aimee 😊 Yes it is so rare for me that I love a book from first page itself. I am so glad that it turned out so good for both of is 😊

      Ye sit is indeed a fun way to do reviews 😊 May be even we can do it someday? 😜

  3. JJ (@darkmaterialss)

    The buddy review format is so fun! I really like the questions you asked one another. Dumplin’ wasn’t really on my radar before, but between the Texas setting and y’all’s reviews I think I may need to hunt this one down!

    1. Post
  4. Camilla @ Reader in the Attic

    This makes me so happy! I read a lot of mixed review, but this one honestly really gives me hopes. Sometimes I tend to become hyper protective towards fat characters… even if I still have to read about.
    Plus the format of this review is super cute and really really illustrative of the whole book. It’s such a good idea

    1. Post

      Thanks Camilla. This was really a fun read and I guess you would enjoy it. This ad totally opposite trope.. fat heroine with beautiful best friend, lol 😀

  5. Olivia-Savannah

    I haven’t read this one myself but this is a book I have seen around the blogsphere quite a bit and I intend to read at some point. I’m surprised the romance was the weakest part of the book and that interests me quite a bit actually, because it is what usually has the leading role. I do like the sound of this one having good fat girl representation and the straightforward tell it how it is mindset to it. Great review!

    1. Post

      Thanks Olivia! You should definitely read this for some fun and different experience. It’s not that the Romance is that bad.. its just that it’s not that good enough as I wanted it to be. But I guess, if this wasn’t the case, then the real focus have the story would have been shifted elsewhere, and probably that would not have been great at all 😃

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