Friday, 18 September 2015

Review: Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

by Julie Murphy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: September 15th, 2015
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
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.

No one likes a bully - absolutely no one. I will never comprehend why a bully does what they do, why they feel the need to hurt - I simply can't wrap my head around it. Dumplin' by Julie Murphy is a book I needed for a very long time, a book that had a vocal protagonist who knows how it feels to be bullied, how it feels to be different, and is an individual who isn't afraid to embrace herself.

Dumplin' is about teen girl Willowdean Dickson, a self-proclaimed fat girl who's obsessed with everything Dolly Parton. With her best friend El by her side, she's always felt at home in her own skin, until a series of events have her doubting herself.  She begins to feel like all control is slipping away, and in a desperate move to win back her confidence, Will enters the Miss Clover City beauty pageant along with a group of girls who are the unlikeliest of candidates.

“I think maybe it’s the things we don’t want to talk about that are the things people most want to hear.”  -Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

Willowdean is a fictional character every teen (boy or girl) needs during their high school years. I can't say that I completely identify with what Will's been through in Dumplin', but I did see myself in her. I was bullied by 'friends' for numerous ridiculous reasons, things that were completely out of my control, and I couldn't help seeing myself in the way Willowdean handled every situation. She saw things the way I did during those pivotal moments, wanting to avoid all of it and wanting to take others going through the same thing far away from the cause - the bully. Julie Murphy rattled something inside of me I hadn't thought of for years and I found myself tearing up several times.

I absolutely loved Willowdean, Bo, El, and Mitch. They were great characters that embodied much of the drama that teens go through during high school. Failing friendships, clumsy relationships, and a whole lot of learning can be found in Dumplin.

Patrick - I hated him and that's a heck of a lot more than I thought I'd ever feel for such a character. Reading Dumplin' brought up a lot of old feelings from my earlier years, plenty of stupid and silly memories, and Patrick just reminded me of all the silly nonsense I dealt with. I simply can't wrap my head around what makes a bully tick, what inspires them to hurt others, and I'd really like to figure out why.

Dumplin' was an emotional and powerful read about acceptance and bullying. It had me tearing up and cheering on from beginning to end. Julie Murphy is a brand new find for me, an incredible author with the ability to suck you into her story immediately, and I'm looking forward to reading her other title "Side Effects May Very" and keeping a look out for any new releases from her in the nearby future.

 I highly recommend teens and adults give Dumplin' by Julie Murphy a read. I'm sure all readers will find themselves identifying, in one way or another, with Willowdean Dickson. Be sure to keep a healthy supply of tissues and red suckers nearby, you'll need it.

Rating: 5/5 Cupcakes - Highly Recommended

This title was purchased by the blogger for their personal collection. No payment was received/accepted in exchange for this review/post. The blogger requests that this review not be reposted or edited without the blogger's permission. The thoughts and words expressed in this review/post are explicitly the blogger's


  1. I'm in your corner about the bullies. Know how it feels and don't want anyone to ever feel that way. I don't get them either. Excellent review Wendy.

  2. I haven't read Dumpling yet but it's in the cards for sure. I've heard a lot of hype about it, everyones looking forward to reading this if they haven't already, and I'm waiting for my hold at the library to come through. It's driving me crazy!

  3. I am so glad you loved it! This book is one of my favorites this year!

    Kate @ Ex Libris

  4. No one likes a bully
    Agreed Agreed Agreed
    I was picked on a lot growing up and Willowdean was a character I connected to straight away.
    Lovely review.