Saturday, November 28, 2015

Review: DUMPLIN' by Julie Murphy

Release Date: September 15, 2015
Publisher: Balzar + Bray/ HarperCollins 
Page Count: 375

Rating: 4/5 stars

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.

Dumplin' is probably one of the most lovable stories I've ever read. I wish I could just reach into the pages and give Willowdean Dickson the biggest hug. 

This book is such an important read for everybody. Although pitched as a story of a self-proclaimed fat girl entering a beauty pageant, it's so much more than just that. It's a story of love and loss, of the value of friendship, and, most importantly, of the value of self-love and acceptance. 

I was passed along an ARC of this book back in July (I know, I know, this post is coming so late) after a friend had finished it, and I couldn't wait to start it. I'd been hearing so much hype about this book ever since YallWest, which was back in April. At the fest, everyone was walking around wearing Dumplin' stickers, and I'd heard from some very-early readers that it was one of the best books they'd read in 2015. I knew then that I simply had to get my hands on it. 

While I did love Dumplin', I did feel that it was very overhyped. Yes, it was a great book with a fantastic message, but was it the best book I'd read this year? No, not really. Here's Why

- I feel the story is pitched completely the wrong way. Yes, it's about a self-proclaimed fat girl and yes, she does enter a beauty pageant. But that wasn't where the heart of the story was. In fact, the beauty pageant itself was practically brushed over! It went so fast- only two or three chapters long- and then... Poof, it was gone. I feel like I would've loved the book so much more had there not been this discrepancy between pitch and page, and if there hadn't been as much hype. 
- The Insta-love factor of the story wasn't anything particularly... Special, and din't pull me into the story and keep me engaged in this subplot. It felt out of place and rushed, and didn't really contribute to the story in any profound way.   All it really did was create a lot of drama that I felt the story would have been better without. 

While there were some aspects of the story that I didn't particularly enjoy, this is not to discourage you from picking up the novel (if you haven't already!) there will always be aspects of books that some people love and other people don't, and that's perfectly okay.

Now, on to my favorite parts of the novel. 

My favorite part was without a doubt the message of the novel. No matter what your body type, everyone has felt some discomfort within their own skin at one point or another, everyone's body has been criticized by the public at some time, and probably everyone could learn to love themselves just a little
bit more. Willowdean's journey of love and acceptance for herself is inspiring and wonderfully honest. Julie Murphy really shows the importance of loving oneself, and furthermore, the achievement of such action, which really is where this story comes to its peak. 

I also loved the friendship aspect of this story. Willowdean and her best friend, Ellen, have a very tumultuous friendship throughout the books. They go from being best friends one moment, to falling in and out of their friendship the next, which is a very accurate depiction of the relationships of teenage girls. I love that Murphy chose to do this, instead of having the classic YA girl-and-best-friend-have-perfect-relationship-route , because it just isn't realistic. 

Finally, if there's one reason at all you should read this book, it should be because of Willodean's impeccable bravery. By no means is she fearless- in fact, she's very scared to be herself for most of the book. But at the end, she develops into an absolute star. She steps out of her comfort zone, defies all odds, and takes risks that ultimately shape her from a weak, scared girl, to a strong, brave woman. 

Willowdean is a spunky, brave, fun-loving protagonist that I fell in love with, and who I think you'll fall in love with too.  Because whether we are small, tall, fat, skinny, or anything in between, we all deserve the same love. 


  1. I've been seeing this around and wondering about picking it up! It looks like a wonderful story, I will definitely add it to my TBR!

    1. Oh yay! I'm so glad you'll be picking it up...I hope you enjoy it!

      - Hannah