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I Belong

Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Dumplin'Title: Dumplin’

Author: Julie Murphy

Genre: YA Contemporary

Series: N/A

Publication Date: September 15, 2015

Format: Hardcover, 384 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062327186 (HarperTeen)

ISBN-13: 978-0062327185 (HarperTeen)

Reviewed by: Michelle


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.

Quick & Dirty: Not only does Murphy write a strong character, but a heroine for everyone to look up to.

Opening Sentence: All the best things in my life have started with a Dolly Parton song.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

When I first heard about Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy, there was a lot of positive buzz around the book blogosphere. I’ve never read anything like Dumplin’s synopsis. It sounded amazing, and I was intrigued. Dumplin’ had all of this potential in my eyes, that it made me hesitant. Then I read Dumplin’. And wow! The hype was correct, and well deserved. Never have I connected to a story, or anyone, in such a deep manner.

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy is about Willowdean Dickson, a young girl in a small town, where everyone associated her alongside her former beauty queen mom. But Willow doesn’t look like the other girls that her momma coaches for the pageants, and she’s comfortable enough that she doesn’t mind. Willow lives her life, accepting that she may not get the chances that other girls have. So when Private School Bo pays attention to her, it’s a surprise to her, and me. Doubt clouds her mind, and she becomes something that she is not – unsure of herself.

Usually, the heroine is pretty, or will embark on a journey and become the epitome of beauty. From what I’ve recently read, the heroine would have long luscious locks of hair, with mesmerizing eyes, and a fit or slender body. But Murphy’s Willow is not a part of that norm. And I love that about Dumplin’. Willow is comfortable in her own skin, and has a tenacity that makes her stand out from everyone else. She has a quick wit, a wonderful personality, and understands things that others may not.

Murphy created Willow to have a real voice. A voice that represents a larger percentage of the population than everyone realizes. Willow’s voice isn’t always strong and loud, but it’s something that needs to be heard. Everyone has a story, even females who don’t normally look like everyone else.

Willow’s upbringing may not be my own, but I connected to her so deeply. Insecurities and emotions from high school were drudged up, and originally, I wasn’t sure what was going on. Reading Murphy’s words brought me to this uncanny time warp, and I don’t think I’ve experienced that before.

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy is a wonderful read, and Willowdean is a heroine for every one of all ages.

Notable Scene:

“Bo.” His voice was dry, but his lips curled into a smile. “My name’s Bo.” He took my hand and a flash of memories I’d never made jolted through my head. Us holding hands in a movie. Or walking down the street. Or in a car.

Then he let go.

That night when I replayed our introductions over and over in my head, I realized that he didn’t flinch when I called myself fat.

And I liked that.

The word fat makes people uncomfortable. But when you see me, the first thing you notice is my body. And my body is fat. It’s like how I notice some girls have big boobs or shiny hair or knobby knees. Those things are okay to say. But the word fat, the one that best describes me, makes lips frown and cheeks lose their color.

But that’s me. I’m fat. It’s not a cuss word. It’s not an insult. At least it’s not when I say it. So I always figure why not get it out of the way?


FTC Advisory: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins provided me with a copy of Dumplin’. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.


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