ARC Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy


Genre: YA Contemporary, Realistic, Romance
Expected Publication: September 15th 2015 by Balzer + Bray
Series: none
Length: 384 pages
Source: eARC from publisher via Edelweiss

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.

Thank you to Balzer + Bray for the book in exchange for an honest review. 

What really sets this book from others is the fact that the MC, Willowdean (or Will), is not ordinary. She is fat. And no, fat is not a bad word. She embraces her body, and I think that’s part of why I loved this book so much. Body positivity is something I really love and seeing that expressed in this book is wonderful.

Will deals with her aunt’s death and her mom’s beauty pageant ways while she tries to find happiness in her best friend Ellen. Will also finds love with Bo at work, and she tries to figure out what she feels like with him. It’s incredibly interesting to see vulnerability in a character, and while Will makes rash decisions, she tries to figure out how she feels about Bo and Ellen and herself.

A few things I liked about this book (I’ll also include a few quotes because they were too adorable):

  1. First love:
    1. “He unbuckles his seat belt and moves towards me. ‘I want more,’ he says. ‘I want more with you.'”
  2. Underlying feminism:
    1. “‘News flash, Mom: a man will not cure my troubles.'”
  3. Teaching people how to be a decent person:
    1. “All my life I’ve had a body worth commenting on and if living in my skin has taught me anything it’s that if it’s not your body, it’s not yours to comment on. Fat. Skinny. Short. Tall. It doesn’t matter.”
  4. Dolly Parton:
    1. Because she’s super cool.

To be honest, I’ve always been a fantasy/post-apocalyptic/survival/dystopian kind of girl, but I’ve been slowly warming into contemporary territory. This novel was a great way to delve deeper. I recommend this novel if you like contemporary/body-positivity or if you just want a sweet summer novel to hang with.

Have you read this novel yet? What did you think of it? Leave a comment!