Published by Balzer + Bray on September 15th 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.
Hey book nerds! Today I’m reviewing Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy! This ARC was gifted to me by Wesaun @ Oreos & Books, so thank you Wesaun! On with the review!
WHAT I LIKED
The characters! I especially loved Willowdean, Ellen, and Willowdean’s mom. Willowdean was such a powerful character, and I loved her! She truly embraced herself and overcame her insecurities. She was flawed and REAL. I’m getting sick of YA characters that don’t have any huge insecurities and Willowdean was a breath of fresh air. As a teenager, I sure as hell have plenty of insecurities. Willowdean was relatable and enjoyable to read. Another character that I loved was Ellen. I really felt for Ellen, especially when Willowdean was being a little b-i-t-c-h-y and Ellen finally stood up for herself. She was more than the typical “best friend” character that has a boyfriend and a starkly contrasting home life from the MC and no depth. Ellen had depth. Now, Willowdean’s mom. What a character. There are so many layers to this woman’s personality. I want a book about her alone! There were times when I hated her, there were times when I loved her, and there were times when I didn’t know whether to side with Willowdean or her mom. Julie Murphy is a character wizard!
The plot! I must admit, I’m slightly obsessed with beauty pageant. I’ve seen every episode of Toddlers & Tiaras that’s ever aired. I even dressed up as the most popular toddler from that show for Halloween one year. I was 12, ok? Anyways, I LOVED the plot of Willowdean joining the pageant. It was funny, interesting, and powerful.
The writing! Julie Murphy is incredible. This book was so quote worthy, I couldn’t keep up!
WHAT I DID NOT LIKE
The romance. I just didn’t feel it. I didn’t get those sparks. Also, the character of Bo was pretty dull. He’s a good guy, but just “eh” to me.
The pacing. The beginning of the book was really slow and kind of boring. This is a character driven book, but it was just a bit too much for me. Once Willowdean entered the pageant and the plot started, it was enjoyable.
Dumplin’ is a hilarious romp through the world of Southern beauty pageants. It promoted confidence and self-love in a non-preachy way. And man, did I feel good about myself after finishing this read! Willowdean’s attitude about her body and beauty in general was inspiring.
Have you read Dumplin’? Did you like it? Let me know in the comments!