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Book Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphey

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General
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
Pages: 375 Pages
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (Harper Collins), September 2015

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Buy it here:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Overall Rating: 4/5

Synopsis

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.

Favorites

  1. Narrator: I liked the voice of this book very much. I found that the pure bluntness of the narrator was just very enjoyable. She definitely isn’t your typical YA girl, but I liked her nevertheless. I found that the struggles she had with herself are very relatable, especially in our current society and its expectations of body images.
  2. Writing Style: It was very casual, easy to follow, perfect for a contemporary genre book.
  3. Characters: As I mentioned, I really liked the main character. The additional “side” characters were also interesting.

Not-So-Faves

  1. Pacing: I felt like the middle of the book was a little slow. The beginning was quick, the ending was quick, but the middle parts of the book dragged for me a little bit.
  2. Focal Point: I wish more of the book was focused on the pageant. The main character has a lot of self reflection time, but I wish it focused a little more on what was happening vs. what she was thinking.
  3. Ending: I felt like the ending had some loose ends and fell a little flat for me.

Rating
Writing style: 4/5
Characters: 4.5/5
Plot: 3.5/5

Overall: 4/5

Final Thoughts
Overall, this book was a pleasant surprise. I wasn’t sure if i would like it or not. I know that body image, especially in our society today, is a very touchy subject. I wasn’t sure if this book would be able to handle the issue with grace + remain real to the issue. I think that the author did a fantastic job with connecting the readers to the narrator, made us feel like we were in Willow’s shoes. I think she found a great balance between being yourself vs. being what others expect you to be. We find Willow in this dilemma throughout the book, but that’s fine, because personally, I struggle with this too… and I’m sure many others out there as well do too. But I feel like the author’s message of balance between this dilemma was well written through Dumplin’. I do recommend this book to anyone, especially if you are interested in the plot and themes of this book.

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