Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

18304322 Genre: YA Contemporary
Published: September 15th 2015 by Balzer + Bray
Length: 384 pages
Source: Balzer + Bray (ARC)

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.”


Man, I don’t think Julie Murphy’s books are for me. I remember reading Side Effects May Vary and did not like that one at all. I had a better experience with Dumplin’, but I still found it lacking. Dumplin’ is told in 1st person point of view by our main character Willowdean Dickson (a.k.a. Dumplin’ – a nickname given by her mother). She’s definitely a realistic character, with lots of flaws which will either make readers love her or hate her. She’s bold, confident, but at times she doesn’t know when to keep her mouth shut so that leads her into trouble.

I think I would have liked this book better if the side characters had more character development. The author was getting there, but never really reached it. For instance, Willowdean’s love interest / co-worker, Bo, was starting to grow on me, but the author never really elaborated with his past. All we get from his past is that he used to be a jerk. Well, okay then… Also, Willowdean’s other love interest, Mitch, seems such a sweet guy but again, the author didn’t elaborate on his character. I was really interested to see past his romantic side, but I guess I’ll never know more about him.

Love triangles usually works out for me, but this one KIND OF has cheating in it which just irritated me. I do like the message of this book which is to love your body and that no one isn’t above or below anyone.

I like how this book also involves family and friendship. Willow’s not really close with her mother… like they talked and laughed at times, but didn’t share any secrets so it was interesting to read how they will break that awkwardness between them throughout the story. I also like the friendship because it was so realistic. Willow and her bff Ellen definitely had their up and down moments due to the Miss Clover City beauty pageant.

Overall I was expecting a casual, mediocre read which I did get so I’m not disappointed with this book nor blown away. There is also a TON of Dolly Parton reference so if you’re a fan of her and interested in reading a book that focuses on romance, family and friendship, I think you will enjoy this book.

3.5 of 5

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