Thursday, September 10, 2015

Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
Series: Standalone
Published: September 15th, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
384 pages (eARC)
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Acquired this book: Via Edelweiss in exchange for honest consideration
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}

{Read my review of Side Effects May Vary}
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.

Dumplin’ is one of those books that's been so hyped, I was almost afraid to read it. For months before its release, blogger friend after blogger friend read it and loved it. I enjoyed Murphy’s debut, Side Effects May Vary, and I was curious how a story about a ‘self-proclaimed fat girl’ would go. Because I get being the fat girl. I’ve always been the fat girl. I’ve loved and hated the way my body looks, and there aren’t enough books about fat girls, especially positive books. But that’s exactly what Dumplin’ was - a positive book about a fat girl.

I adored Willowdean. I thought she was hilarious, smart, and honest. She was realistically flawed, and she was so much more than ‘just a fat girl’. Even though there was an emphasis on her weight throughout the story, Dumplin' was mostly a story about a teenage girl navigating life and learning some tough lessons. I love, love, love that Dumplin’ wasn’t one of those ‘fat girl loses weight in order to find her self-worth’ stories. Willowdean went back and forth between confidence and insecurity, loving and accepting her body, and then hating it. She didn’t think she needed to change, even when her mother (not to mention society) thought she should. I wish I’d had this book as a teen when I felt invisible and like no boy would ever look twice at me because I was fat, even though I had a lot to offer. I wish I’d known it was okay to be confident, to look in the mirror and like what I saw, to not worry about everything I ate or every pound I gained or lost.

Besides connecting with Willowdean over her weight, I connected with this story because of the friendships. The issues between Will and her best friend Ellen really hit home for me. Will could see Ellen drifting, could feel the distance growing between them, and knew things were changing. I’ve been Willowdean and I’ve been Ellen. I’ve been the friend who wants to grow and feels held back, and I’ve been the friend who felt like I was holding someone else back. I could see it from both perspectives, but my heart broke for Willowdean. Feeling like your best friend is moving in a different direction from you, having experiences you’re not, making new friends - it sucks. It hurts. It’s hard. Especially when you’re a teenager and so many things feel so uncertain. So much of Will’s identity was tied to Ellen, and not having her in her life was devastating. I appreciated that even though it hurt, she did make new friends, she grew as a person, and she learned some important things about herself and about friendship. 

I think (and hope) Dumplin’ will appeal to a lot of people. Anyone who’s ever felt different, weird, fat, ugly, or insecure will likely see themselves in the pages of this book. I loved the overall positive messages, and I laughed, happy-cried, cheered, and swooned my way through this book. Dumplin’ was much more emotional than I expected in a lot of ways, and I know these characters will stick with me for a long time.

I highlighted a total of 13 quotes in my eARC, so rather than posting my favourite quotes at the end of the review like I usually do, I’m going to dedicate an entire post to my favourite quotes tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Have you read Dumplin'? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Do you have a favourite book with a main character who's fat? Let's talk here or on Twitter!

1 comment:

  1. I do this all the time with hyped books. I panic and put off reading it forever. I'm glad you ended up loving this one. I've seen it around and been interested how it is.


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