Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Series: Dumplin’ #1 (review of Puddin‘)
Published: September, 2015
Genre: romance, contemporary / Young Adult

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.

I read no reviews when this book came out three years ago, though I could see it had very good ratings. Honestly, I do not know why I did not readit back then, and it has been on my TBR since it came out. I might have forgotten about it, for the hype died pretty fast, but was determined to read it this year, since I learnt that Puddin’ was coming out.


I have to admit that I was a bit confused at the beginning of the book, for I was expecting to see Will enter the pageant and follow her progress and experience with it. After all, what I knew about the book was basically that part, a fat girl entering a beauty pageant. However, I quickly discovered that it was more than that and even though it was a great part of the story, and an important one, it was not the only factor or focus. I fairly enjoyed that aspect but I am so glad it focused on so many different story lines. Dumplin’ is a love story, it’s about friendship, about loss, about acceptance and about growing up.

Willowdean was a fun character to follow. She was not my favourite from the book but she was the narrator this book needed. I enjoyed her interactions with the different girls, and it was very easy to relate to her. Her thoughts and opinions are very clear, but I was shocked to see that for someone so positive and confident, she was also very negative and even cruel, not about herself, but about her so-called friends. I was happy to see those relationships explored but thought some conclusions were reached too abruptly.

Our two male leads were okay. I loved Boo at the beginning of the book and was very much intrigued by his side of the story, but felt a bit iffy towards the midddle of the book. I also loved Mitch, but I wished Will would have treated him better. My views on the boys were very much affected by Will, but they were not dependent on her opinions, but on how much time she spent with them, like if she saw them too often or did not see them at all, I became uninterested.

My favourite character, though, was Millie; her energy was so positive and contagious and I wanted more interactions with her because she wassuch a delight and you cannot help but want to be her friend.  I felt like each character was their best self when they were around her. She is so precious and I was so happy when I learnt that she would be one of the leads in Puddin’.

Have you read this book? Do you agree with my thoughts? Who was your favourite character? Are you excited about Puddin’?


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