By: Celine | September 7, 2015 | (19) Comments

Review: Dumplin’ by Julie MurphyDumplin' by Julie Murphy
Release Date: September 15th 2015
Genres: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 384
Source: Received in exchange for review
Goodreads | Purchase

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.

When I first heard of Dumplin’, I was really excited. Self-proclaimed fat girl enters beauty pageant? Uhm, how about yes, please. It seemed like the ultimate eff-you to beauty standards and generally awesome. And, well, I must admit I did love that aspect of the book, but I wasn’t completely smitten with it as a whole.

My main problem with Dumplin’ is that I just didn’t really click with it. The story is good, the characters are solid, but I just felt this sort of detachment that kept me from getting really involved. This is, of course, a personal thing and I’m guessing not a lot of people will feel this way – but hey, this is my honest opinion of the book. I recognize that Dumplin’ was a really solid novel that made some good points, but I was simply not really involved.

The protagonist of the novel is Willowdean, or Will. I loved her confidence and spunk, but I must admit that I wasn’t really enamored with the rest of her character. She can be judgemental and stubborn in a way I couldn’t really get behind. Of course, this is what character development is for and she does change, but I didn’t like her all that much. Then again, I don’t have to necessarily like a character, but, argh, I don’t know. I’m very articulate today. Something about her just bugged me sometimes, but I recognize her as a strong character. And she does change, so I really don’t have anything to complain about in that regard.

What I absolutely did love were the female friendships. There’s this awesome arc between Will and her (former) best friend Ellen, in which they fight and make up and basically just realise that FRIENDSHIP IS IMPORTANT, which has my stamp of approval all over it. Then there’s the other friendship arc, in which Will and a group of misfits get together to conquer this pageant thing. Unlikely group of people bonding because they have a common cause = MY JAM. Loved seeing this friendship grow and how these girls bonded.

I wasn’t as sold on the romance, in that I simply didn’t ship it. But I am someone who, well, doesn’t ship lightly. I’ll admit there were a couple of cute moments, but I didn’t have strong feelings about it either way. To be honest, the most important part of this book, for me, was challenging beauty standards and on that front it delivered.

So really, I do think Dumplin’ is a good book. It’s strong, it knows what it wants. Come for the challenging of beauty standards, stay for the awesome friendships.

~Thank you Balzer + Bray for the review copy!~

3.5 Stars
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Celine is 17 years old and from the Netherlands. Quite obviously, she loves books! She has been a reader for as long as she can remember, and she believes she will be a reader forever. Celine is also obsessed with food, and loves singing along to music as loud as possible, dancing and doodling on nearly everything.

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19 Responses to Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

  1. Ahh, I totally agree with this 😀 I LOVED it but I didn’t connect to Will at all. *shrugs* I still don’t understand why she and Bo had such issues. I mean…why??! What did I miss?!? *ahem* So I didn’t particularly ship it because I thought they were both super immature, BUT HEY THEY’RE JUST TEENS DISCOVERING THEIR LIVES. So yeah. *nods* I loved the messages though and the feminism and how refreshing it just was as a whole. :’)
    Cait @ Paper Fury recently posted…I Am An Insomniac But Whatever. Here Is the Bedtime #BookTagMy Profile

  2. I was intrigued as soon as I saw a cover-reveal for this book. I love how Dumplin’ has her self-esteem thrown into question by something GOOD happening to her. Nobody ever talks about that. It can be easy sometimes to power through mean people and snide remarks because you dismiss them as unimportant…but when someone you like starts to make you think you ARE totally loveable…it’s weird how that just makes you question it and shakes your grounding in yourself. I wish I would have heard that Will is a little easier to get behind and like, but I’m also glad to hear that the book emphasises the importance of non-romantic relationships. Thanks for the review, Celine!
    Audrey Greathouse recently posted…My New-Found Love for Book BloggersMy Profile

  3. I keep debating on whether I want to pick this one up. It sounds really good, but I don’t know. I guess I’m nervous to not like it because I have heard a lot of people like it…or love it.

    I had not connecting/clicking with the characters/book. It’s what ties everything together! At least you enjoyed it for the most part 🙂
    Erica @ Novel Ink recently posted…The Accident Season | Co-ReviewMy Profile

  4. I wonder if I will connect with Will, as I am someone who has been both big and small all throughout my life. I plan on getting a copy of this and curl up to it and see if it grabs me by the heart. Great review, Celine!
    Dre @ Sporadic Reads recently posted…Review 255 : The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-DoyleMy Profile

  5. I’m really looking forward to reading this one myself. It’s next on my TBR, so I honestly only skimmed your review. I’m glad to see you enjoyed it, despite the few issues you had with it. 🙂
    Lisa (Lost in Literature) recently posted…Let’s Chat: Drowning is Inevitable by Shalanda StanleyMy Profile

  6. Lyn Kaye says:

    *SQUEEEEE* I am so horribly excited for this book! I’m sorry to hear that it was hard to connect with the characters, but it is a HUGE plus that it was pro-female relationships!
    Lyn Kaye recently posted…Book Review: Spinning StarlightMy Profile

  7. As a curvy girl, I approve of the message behind Dumplin’! As a book lover, I’m leery of books that other readers have a hard time connecting to. 😕 But I love the sound of those female friendships!
    Sarah @ One Curvy Blogger recently posted…How I Come Up With Sexy Scenes + GiveawayMy Profile

  8. Why haven’t I read this yet?! I would love to read it. I’ve been hearing nothing but praise about the characters all around, so its nice to get a different perspective on things. Great review, Celine!
    Madiha@Symphony of Words recently posted…How Expressively Sorry I AmMy Profile

  9. Alexina says:

    So Would you recommend this book or not? I think I’d like to read it but have encountered lots of mixed reviews.
    Alexina recently posted…September New ReleasesMy Profile

  10. I actually thought this would be more about the body image and the beauty standards you know? But it kind of didnt’ seem that way. Although Willow was frank and hilarious, she was an intimidating character for me. Lovely review Celine!
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…BOOKTUBE VIDEO: Top 5 Aussie YA Author RecommendationsMy Profile

  11. I didn’t like Side Effects May Vary, which is why I was a bit hesitant to give this one a try. BUT now that I’ve read your wonderful review I’m definitely going to have to give this a try. 🙂 It sounds absolutely amazing, especially the way the female friendships are showcased and the diversity of the protagonist. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! ♥
    Zoe @ Stories on Stage recently posted…MagnoliaMy Profile

  12. I do understand where you are coming from, Celine! There are simply some books out there that just don’t resonate despite all the good intentions and messages and themes it may have. As for me, I recognize what you are talking about Willowdean – she is a walking oxymoron, I would say – she is confident in herself and doesn’t want to let her appearance define her, but at the same time, she projects the same stereotypes onto other people (and sometimes herself), which I thought made her a more relatable character, because most of us are like that in certain ways. Like there are times I give good advice, but when I’m in the same situation, I don’t follow it. Or sometimes I think I’m still not beautiful, despite many people saying I do. Really goes to show that the human confidence and psyche is really complex. THAT OR I AM JUST THINKING WAY TOO MUCH INTO THIS. XD
    Faye la Patata recently posted…Potato Strip #5: The Struggles of Writing a Positive ReviewMy Profile

  13. I’ve been hearing good things about this book but yeah.. I know this kind of feeling towards a book. I’m glad that the friendships are aswesome though. Grea review, Celine! 🙂
    Paula M @ HBT! recently posted…ARC REVIEW: Until Beth by Lisa Amowitz + Giveaway!!My Profile

  14. Aw no, a sucky romance? I can’t have that. I need a good romance in every single thing I read, lol. I still wanna read this though. Great review!
    Blessie (Mischievous Reads) recently posted…Purple Is The New Black + Giveaway!My Profile

  15. JennRenee says:

    I have been excited for this book for a while. I love a good friendship plot… actually better than romance most of the time. i think its not told enough in ya. great review.
    JennRenee recently posted…Cover Up: Scary Woods….My Profile

  16. I haven’t read Dumplin’, Angelina did, but it sounds fantastic! I love the cover and the summary, it’s something different, something to look forward too 😀 even though it’s already out but whatever XD.
    I’m sad to hear that you didn’t really click with it 🙁 that stinks a lot! I keep hearing wonderful things though…
    Well, even if the romance wasn’t the best, at least their was a good friendship relationship right :)?
    Have a fantastic Friday!
    Brianna @ Otakutwins Reviews recently posted…Mistborn Mini, Little ,Itty, Bitty, ReviewMy Profile

  17. SJ Bouquet says:

    Hm… I totally get what you mean about Will. I haven’t read the book yet, but I’ve felt that way about characters before. It’s like, nothing is WRONG with you are the story, it’s just, we ain’t clicking. Which is a sucky way to feel because IS there something wrong with the story and I just can’t quite put my thumb on it, or is it just my personal mood fowling the read? Idk! ANYWAYS MOVING ON xD

    Great review! I want to read this book so bad. I’m glad the friendships are good. I love great written friendships asldkfjalskdjf
    SJ Bouquet recently posted…Why do we freeze and suddenly find ourselves uninterested in or unable to read highly anticipated novels?My Profile

  18. Yani says:

    I tried to buy a copy of this but when I read the synopsis, I was a bit disappointed. It’s not really for me. Glad it’s good on you. 🙂
    Yani recently posted…Review: Every Ugly Word by Aimee L. SalterMy Profile

  19. Gertie says:

    – 1) Allison Harp // 2) Ovilla, TX // 3) Photographer! // 4) I’m so grateful for such a wonderful post-grad life where I have the space and selnfemployme-t that allows me to figure out what the hell is coming next.

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