Book Review | Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Dumplin’ hasn’t been on my radar for long. It’s not really that talked about in the Booktune community – and I haven’t really seen it around bookstagram that much either. Maybe I’m not following the right people – those hidden Dumplin’ fans.

Even when the movie dropped on Netflix, I didn’t really see a lot of talk about it. To All the Boys was majorly hyped, but this one… not so much.

When I saw Jennifer Aniston was cast as the mom in the adaptation of Dumplin’, I knew I’d be watching it. But not before having read the book.

So with my Christmas gift card from Barnes and Noble, I bought my copy of Dumplin’.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

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.

Body Positivity

Look, I get that a lot of people don’t think this book was that body positive for a book about body positivity, but I don’t agree with those people. I think Willowdean is really positive in her own skin if we consider the fact that she is a sixteen year old girl. I’ve been slim my whole life, but I haven’t always felt comfortable in my own skin. This is what I think the main point Julie Murphy is trying to drive home. I mean even the MOST confident person in the world probably has struggled with body image issues. I don’t think this is not body positive.

Think about this for a second, Will’s issues don’t rise until her feelings for Bo surface. Who hasn’t been kissing someone and felt less than comfortable in their own skin. Look, maybe I’m oversharing, but I remember my first real kiss with a boy. I never felt so uncomfortable in my life even though I was enjoying myself.

The point I’m trying to make is that Julie Murphy wrote Will really well. She’s confident, but not always overly so. Everyone has issues with their bodies at some point in time.

Love Triangle

This book didn’t need a love triangle. Not at all. That being said, I thought Mitch was really just the sweetest. Obviously I was Team Bo because Will didn’t really even like Mitch.

Honestly, I thought this could’ve been handled better. Mitch was clearly meant to be a friend for Will and I wish that’s what would’ve happened. I didn’t like seeing him get his heart broken. I also didn’t like that his freaking best friend was the biggest asshole at the school. Whatever, the point stands. It didn’t need a love triangle. It made me feel really uncomfortable.

The Misfits

If there’s one thing I love in YA books, it’s a band of misfits coming together to overthrow the ideologies of the people around them. That’s what I loved most about this book.

First of all, Hannah is everything I expect to not fit into a small Texan town. Lesbian: check. Non-white: check. Some random defining feature that everyone makes fun of: check. Big attitude: double check. I liked Hannah simply because of her bluntness. She doesn’t need to fit in, but wants at least one friend. I was happy she found that in Will.

Millie is the happiest person in the book. She doesn’t let anyone hold her down (even her parents). What I liked about Millie is that she remains so positive throughout the book. She’s a close second in the group of misfits.

Amanda is seriously hilarious. Every single time she calls Bo “Peachbutt” I laughed out loud. It was seriously the best. As Millie’s best friend, she’s perfect.

The Friendship (& Rift)

Ellen and Will’s friendship being forged on Dolly Parton was a highlight of this book for me. I love Dolly, but not quite like these girls. Sure, I’ve been known to belt “Jolene” off key, but I don’t know every word to every Dolly song. I don’t worship her. But I loved this aspect of the book. It made me so happy.

The rift in the friendship could easily have been avoided if these two young ladies HAD COMMUNICATED. We don’t ask for much, but like, please explain to each other why you’re mad so we can move on and not waste time on mean girls!

Concluding Thoughts

I finished Dumplin’ on a Thursday and then spent Saturday morning watching the film. It was cute and not quite on par with the book, but good in its own right. I definitely recommend picking up the book before hitting up the movie because of the details lacking in the film.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Yeah that’s right. This one was a solid 5 for me. It made me feel so happy while reading it and I had a hard time putting it down. The characters were so well developed and the storyline captured me. My main issue was with the ending…

Have you ever participated in a beauty pageant before? I haven’t, but I’ve watched a male pageant live before (it was the best!).

One more question: Should I pick up Puddin’? I haven’t read the synopsis so I don’t know if it will give me more of what happens after the pageant or not.

Adaptations (Book to Movie) Book Reviews From My Library

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