Today I have a book review of Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy; though it is categorized as Children’s Fiction after reading I felt more of a Young Adult vibe. I don’t usually ever read YA but as 2016 reading resolution I wanted to try reading this genre. I have now successfully read a couple YA titles and enjoyed them too. This is also my 1st review copy from HarperCollins India, you can’t imagine how happy I am about reviewing for an Indian publisher. Yay me 🙂
Dumplin’ had a huge buzz and great reviews on social media back when it released late in 2015. I grabbed the chance quick to review it for HarperCollins India. The books I have read so far this year are so varied that I either get too chatty in my reviews or too crisp, this one and the next is on the chatty side. Hope you enjoy reading this review.
Isn’t that a Gorgeous Cover
Author: Julie Murphy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray, An imprint of HarperCollins
Format reviewed: Hardback
Rating: 5 stars
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.
I will begin by some swooning over the book’s cover, it is a gorgeous Black with a lady in red striking a pose on it like a beauty queen which reminded me of some awards, golden globe or some such not sure though. And the inside is even prettier with thick lovely red pages at the start and end. Hardcover books are usually collectibles and no wonder they hold a special place on the shelves and hearts of us bookworms. This one’s for keeps without a doubt.
Now about Dumplin’, it is the story of Willowdean Dickson or Dumplin’ to her mother, a teenager in Clover city, Texas. From an Indian point of view the only difference is of the school system and traditions. Other than that it is a story every teenager around the world can relate to. Dumplin’ being fat is just a technicality, the story is much more than that. It shows bonds of friendship, young love, school life and its insecurities, body image and just about everything we go through as teenagers. The trials and lessons which form our personalities and the kind of people we later on become in our lives. A glimpse into how something becomes huge in small towns and effect its people for a long time. Like the beauty pageant in this story which effected everyone in Dumplin’s family and later her and her friends, too.
Then there is her best friend, her new friends, the struggles of fighting with your best friend and discovering boys and young love. The bond between Will and Ellen is strong and shows how important friends are, even when you are fat but still loved by your best friend. Being fat or insecure doesn’t count in friendships, it’s all normal, being part of a teenager and how easily you can laugh when your friend makes fat jokes. That’s how strong and safe friendships are, most of the times, especially when we are teenagers. I loved the dynamic and warmth between the friends in this story.
Then there is Private school Bo, Dumplin’s guy. She gets dreamy eyed when he says her name ‘Willowdean’. Now, we all hate our names when we are teenagers, but on rare occasions when the boy we like takes our name, there is no sound sweeter than our name in the world for us. So when Dumplin’ sighs with pleasure at the sound of Bo calling her ‘Willowdean’, I too happily sigh with her.
Just when you think all is lovey dovey and cozy in Dumplin’s world, she goes and enters the city’s most important event – Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Beauty Pageant. The pageant her mother entered, won and now oversees, the one which her beloved, dead Aunt almost entered and one which no one expects her to enter. Will being fat and not the typical beauty queen material you see. If that wasn’t drama enough she gets into a fight and stops speaking to her best friend Ellen, gains new followers/friends and secretly enjoys the attention of Private school Bo. Then there’s Mitch who openly pays her attention and becomes her good friend. Of course I like both the guys but Bo Larson is something else and when you see him through Dumplin’s eyes you will agree.
I absolutely enjoyed reading the struggles and joys of Dumplin’s life. How she finally sees the confidence everyone sees in her and embraces it. It’s great to see her walk the ramp with gusto, get her best friend back, and in the end sigh with pleasure when Private school Bo says ‘Willowdean’.
This is Julie Murphy’s second novel, her writing is crisp and the story flows beautifully. I was engrossed in the lives of the characters, which to be honest doesn’t happen with every book your read. In this story I liked and wanted to know about each and every character, that’s always a plus in a new author you read.
So whether you read YA or not, are an Indian teenager or just a bookworm, you have to read this story, to re-live the good parts and get nostalgic about your teenage years.
Buy a copy here:
The Author [Image source- Author’s website]
Julie Murphy lives in North Texas with her husband who loves her, her dog who adores her, and her cats who tolerate her. When she’s not writing or trying to catch stray animals, Julie can be found in a library smelling old books and manning the reference desk.
Reviewed by Bharti