I received this book for free (hey, thanks!) in exchange for an honest review. I promise that this does NOT affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. For real.Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
on September 15th 2015
Also by this author: Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined to Meet
(384 pages) • Goodreads • Amazon • Barnes & Noble
Dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom, Willowdean 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 Teen Blue Bonnet 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 have no idea why Dumplin’ didn’t sound that appealing to me when I first heard of it. I mean, really, it has a lot of elements I’d be interested in. I almost didn’t bother requesting it through the ARC tour, but I couldn’t be happier that I decided to go for it. First of all, the cover is amazing and minimalistic and absolutely perfect for the story. Second, the story was fucking amazing.
Dumplin’ honestly blew me away. I wrote down so many powerful quotes that I don’t even how to share them with you. All I know this, this book was extremely perfect for me. I feel like all girls (at some point or another) struggle with their appearance: whether it has to do with their weight, their legs, their hair… anything. I’m constantly self-conscious about how I look and my weight. I wish I was half as confident as Willowdean is in her skin. Girls of all sizes and appearances will appreciate the message of this book.
Willowdean, as confident as she is, even has some moments of doubt – between her relationship with Bo, her feelings about her mother, and the pageant, even some things can bring her down momentarily. I loved her right away, starting from the moment she distracted Millie from the taunting of a dickhead guy at school. I completely understood SO many of the things she was going through, from growing apart from her best friend, to being jealous of new friends, to wondering what the hot guy really saw in her.
The biggest and best thing about this book is the message that everyone is beautiful. It sounds corny and overdone, but its true. And much more powerful than other books with the same message! Willowdean makes friends with a bunch of girls who, like herself, aren’t considered conventionally beautiful. One is overweight, one has buckteeth, and the other walks with a limp. They all decide to enter the pageant to show that they don’t have to change anything about themselves to look and feel beautiful. The best part is that Willowdean completely rejects the idea that they should do anything to change themselves. So many people talk about how they’re “disgusted” about overweight people and claim they’re worried for their health. People constantly ask why Hannah doesn’t get braces to fix her teeth. It’s that simple, right? Not always. I loved when Willowdean said, “she shouldn’t have to fill her mouth with metal so some shithead will leave her alone.” You shouldn’t have to change anything about yourself to feel good, and people shouldn’t give you crap about it. It’s not their business or their place.
As for the romance, I really loved Mitch and Bo. It was pretty obviously who she had legitimate chemistry with but I still felt bad for the other boy. View Spoiler »It was kind of nice that Willowdean ended up with the more conventionally attractive guy, because why not? Just because Mitch was also bigger didn’t mean he and Willowdean would hit it off automatically. « Hide Spoiler The ending could have been a litttttle bit longer – just a few more pages to wrap everything up better. Aside from that, I don’t really have any complaints! There were some times where the pacing felt off; not enough was happening at certain times and the pageant was kind of crammed into the end. I would have spread it out a little bit more and added a bit more at the end.. but hey, that’s just me! I can’t even really call it a flaw, though, because I loved this book so much. Five bright shining stars, just like Willowdean.
This book shows how a group of girls who aren’t conventionally pretty can take a beauty pageant (and entire small down) by storm. Even the most confident or pretty or skinny girls can still feel insecure about something. I just loved the whole book and message. I can’t say it enough. READ THIS BOOK.
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“Book Buddies Ask” is a feature I do with my Book Buddy Cristina from Girl in the Pages! While we do an in-depth buddy read every-other month, we decided it would be fun to ask fun little questions for other books we read together more casually! These questions are inspired by fun little elements from the book.
Have you ever done anything you were
scared of to prove something to yourself?
This is a tough one for me! I am someone who loves living in a bubble. I don’t step out of my comfort zone too often, and I don’t challenge myself to do a lot of things. I don’t like competition and I love my routines. I’m simple like that! But, there have definitely been a few times where I decided to push my limits and do something to prove that I can. Today I have a job interview for a position I am REALLY REALLY excited about. I don’t like my current job but tend to fall into the routine and laziness that it allows. I complain but never do anything about it. I put out applications and then chicken out when it comes time for the interview. I am determined to get this job, though, even if it’s just to prove that I can pull myself out of this job I don’t like! Wish me luck today!
Good luck on your interview! I totally understand where you are at, because while I don’t love my job anymore, the laziness and routine factors are reasons I am not making any big moves. I need to change that!
And on to the book — great review. I think I am going to try and check this one out soon. I have heard so many fab reviews and the body positive messaging is wonderful. I didn’t realize it was YA until very recently, but that’s exactly the target audience that needs this message.
Yes exactly! You become comfortable and stagnant. That’s when it’s time!
The book was fantastic.
Good luck on your job interview, Lauren! It’s funny my answer was similar to yours- I don’t often push myself out of my comfort zone, but have done so recently with starting a new job, moving, etc., the more “grown up” things that aren’t traditionally thought of as “scary” but really are intimidating!
Definitely intimidating! Congrats on everything to youuuu 🙂
When I first heard about this book, it didn’t really appeal to me either. I didn’t bother to request it. I am kicking myself now because all the reviews have been so good. I can’t wait to read this one. Great review!
First, I just want to say that I can’t wait to read this book and I love your buddy reviews. Second, I hope the job interview went well! Third, I don’t always step out of my comfort zone either, but I am trying to and so far it has always been worth it!
Thank you 😀 It’s always worth it to try, but comfort/laziness tend to overtake me.
This book was fucking fantastic. I wanted to wait to post my review until closer to the publication date, but I just couldn’t. lol
I felt bad for the other boy too. He seemed so sweet, and the type of person I’d be attracted to, but her choice just worked too. It was hard for a while because I didn’t want to see either of them get hurt.
I pre-ordered this one, and I cannot wait until it gets here because I loaned my ARC to my neighbor, and I need to read it again.
I know my preorder is coming soooon 😀
I loooooved this book. Willowdean is definitely a main character that definitely will stand out to me in the future. She had no problem about her size but she wasn’t a fully confident person about her size and I love that because she isn’t perfect. (Ahhhh Mitch! I felt soooo bad for him :P) Great review Lauren and so glad you enjoyed. 🙂
I know she was awesome! 😀
Dumplin is one of those books that a lot of people have been raving about as well. But it seems rightly so. I can’t imagine being given the decision that the main character has to go through in this book at all… and I think it is so good that before that question comes she is already comfortable in her skin. I can imagine the main theme is really driven home in this one and I am interested to find out what choice she decides to make in the end.
[…] involved. I would chalk this up to just being a book from 2003 and think that newer books (like Dumplin) should/do have more space in the market… but the fact that there’s a sequel coming out […]