Book Reviews

Review – Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy


Dumplin’ By Julie Murphy

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Rating: 3 out of 5 hearts



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.

My Thoughts and Review:

Dumplin’ is about a girl named Willowdean, also known as Will, and to put it simply, she’s fat. I am not saying that to sound insulting or ignorant, she literally labels herself with that word and she is okay with it. Will doesn’t necessarily embrace this aspect of her but it’s not like she is completely embarrassed by it either. However, growing up and having a little bit of extra weight does have an impact on her, especially when you consider the fact that her mom was a former pageant queen.

With a job at a fast-food restaurant, she develops a crush on a co-worker, Bo, whom she believes is way out of her league due to the fact that he was a former jock and all. Rather than trying to develop a relationship with him though, she decides to build some confidence and join the annual Miss Clover City beauty pageant instead.

I dove into this novel expecting an inspirational novel with an amazing message and in the end, I kind of got that.

Willow. I admired her, but at the same time, found her sort of unreasonable at times. I liked that she wasn’t always insecure about her body. She accepted herself for what she was and didn’t try to change it no matter how her peers reacted and what they told her.

“ I’m Dumplin’. And Will and Willowdean. I’m fat. I’m happy. I’m insecure. I’m bold.”

However, since Willow knew what it liked to be criticized for her body, I feel like it was hypocritical of her when she started body shaming skinny girls. She judged her fellow pageant contestants for being thin and it just didn’t seem right to me.

The author was clearly trying to spread the idea of accepting different body type, but I don’t know if this book was very successful in doing so. Every book has its ups and downs and I feel like the book was less than what I was expecting.

However, other than trying to spread body positivism, the book was also diverse! Along her beauty pageant journey, Will made some friends and one of them was apart of the LGBTQ community. Although this wasn’t a major aspect in the book, I still applaud the author for including it. Speaking of friends, Julie Murphy also successfully incorporated friendship development into the plot. I thought Will’s new friends were unique in their own ways and I enjoyed reading about their bonds with one another. There was also some slight humor in this novel and that was highly appreciated.

I thought this book needed some better closure at the end though. When I say that, I am mainly referring to Will’s relationship with Bo. Their interest in one another was there but the author didn’t really tell the readers what exactly happened to them at the end. I kind of made an inference based on what was given, but I need a real conclusion! Also, this book was meant to be a light and easy read but it took me so long to complete. Why? It’s because I found the writing to be pretty dull. There wasn’t much intriguing content. I felt bad for not finishing it though so I eventually just got down to business and read the entire thing.

The novel had some pretty nice quotes and here are some that stood out to me!

“I guess sometimes the perfection we perceive in others is made up of a whole bunch of tiny imperfections…”

“…let the glitter fall where it may…”

All in all, Dumplin’ was a decent novel. I heard that there will be a companion novel of this published in 2018?! I know this because the author confirmed this herself on Goodreads. I am not sure I will read it, but then again, I can’t predict the future so let’s wait and see!



10 thoughts on “Review – Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

  1. Ahhh I agree with your review! I disliked Willow quite a lot – I get the messages the author was trying to send, but when Willow fat-shamed and skinny-shamed other girls it became a bit too much for me. Plus Bo was super bland… I just didn’t really get why she’d be into him at all. 🤔

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was about to say the same thing. 😂 I often read the sequel of a book I didn’t enjoy only because I need to know how the story ends! It’s like stopping midsentence. It’s impossible not to wonder about the

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for sharing this review, Kathy! I’ve been debating about reading this for a while, but I think I’ll pass just because I feel like it’s suffice enough to read reviews on it.

    “…it was hypocritical of her when she started body shaming skinny girls. She judged her fellow pageant contestants for being thin…”
    And because I don’t think I’d be okay with this. ^^

    However, we all have our complexes and insecurities, and I like that this book presents a character that explores hers. I also think it’s great that the story suggests an uplifting message. Nice review!

    Liked by 1 person

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