Thursday, May 17, 2018

Review: Dumplin by Julie Murphy

Dumplin' (Dumplin', #1)Title: Dumplin'
Author:  Julie Murphy
Publisher: Balzer+Bray
Publishing Date:  September 15th, 2015
Pages: 384
Genre: YA Contemporary Realistic Fiction
Series:  Dumplin #1
Source:  Audio

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.

This was my second time reading this book. I read it the first time after it first came out and I remember loving it but I never did a review of this book. Not sure why. I wanted to re-read because I didn't remember all the characters and I want to read Puddin'. So I decided to re-read this book. I loved it this time around just as much as I did the first time. The characters are bit flawed at times but the story is cute and funny and it was just a fun read. 
Willowdean is a fat girl. She is the one that calls herself a fat girl and makes many comments to herself about her weight. She wants a normal life and she wants others to see her for who she is not her weight. Also to accept her for her weight and stop trying to change it. Especially her mother. Her mother is a former Miss Clover City winner and Willowdean knows her weight disappoints her mother. The one that she was close too, her aunt Lucy, was overweight and understood. But she has recently passed away. Willowdean feels she has no one that understands her anymore. This summer has changed everything for Willowdean. She meets a boy, she is kissed for the first time, she doesn't have her aunt Lucy, and her childhood best friends seem to be drifting away from her. This summer Willowdean needs to find herself, truly accept herself, and learn to depend on herself. She decides to enter the Miss Clover City beauty pageant and this leads to many events, relationship drama, family drama, and maybe even some new friends. 

So I love this book. I love the characters, even though they are flawed, they are real. I love the story, the comic relief, the revelations, the writing, even the romance... which is flawed too. There is a lot of reality in this book, and I think it was approached in a such a good way. 

Willowdean is a very complicated character. She isn't the only one that is complicated in this book, but she is the most complicated. She is aware of how others see her and even though she tries her hardest to not allow it to affect her, it does. She tries the method of admitting her weight and that she is fat, she tries to be okay with this, she tries to joke about it. Truth is she is self-conscience at times. There are times she is great about it and then other times she isn't. Honestly, I think this is true of every teenager with every flaw. Being a teen or adult even and accepting yourself is hard. Willowdean had a couple saving graces growing up, her aunt, and her best friend. They accepted her truly. Now one is gone and the other is drifting away. Willowdean is strong most of the time and she is brave. I love this about her. She does have her issues. She can be quite selfish and self-loathing at times. But all in all, I liked her. 

I think Willowdean would have been a different girl if her mother had just embraced her like her aunt did. I understand wanting your child to be happy and healthy but instead of focusing on weight focus on things that will make her a strong individual. 

I did like Willowdean's best friend, Ellen. I think most of the issues that the two had were on Willowdean's part. Ellen accepted Willowdean for who she was. She wasn't judgy or embarrassed. She loved her. 

There were two guys in this book that were a part of Willowdean's life. There wasn't a love triangle just a love and a sort of rebound. This is the part I really hated on Willowdean's part. Bo was the boy she crushed on and when he kissed her and they started to have some pretty heavy make-out sessions, Willowdean's gets a little strange. She really likes Bo but she fears a relationship with him because of her size. She decides to run from this relationship and out of some kind of strange pity for herself or not knowing how to say no she starts a relationship halfway with another guy at school. This guy is super sweet. The problem is she isn't over Bo and is just using this other guy... not really coming to terms this is what she is doing. I didn't like this part of Willowdean. 

Anyways, the romance is complicated in this book because Willowdean is complicated. I didn't dislike Bo. I think he was confused and didn't know what he wanted as far as relationships go but he really did like Willowdean. So its a sweet but very complicated romance. 

Another really good and fun part of this book was the group of misfits that join the pageant with Willowdean. I enjoyed getting to know all of them and can't wait to see where Millie's story goes in the next book. 

This book is about self-acceptance, friendship, family, forgiveness, love, and just finding happy. It's a really good story. 

Loved it, so cute, full of laughs and some tears. Great story. 

Julie   Murphy

Julie lives in North Texas with her husband who loves her, her dog who adores her, and her cat who tolerates her. When she's not writing or trying to catch stray cats, she works at an academic library. Side Effects May Vary is Julie's debut novel.

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