Sunday, November 29, 2015

DUMPLIN' by Julie Murphy

I really, really enjoyed this one.  Dumplin' by Julie Murphy is definitely my kind of book.  It hooked me with a catchy summary, kept me interested with a fun plot and quirky characters, and sealed the deal with a happy ending--that okay yeah, might've been a little too happy, but I couldn't have cared less.  I wanted the happy and Murphy delivered.

Here's the summary that drew me in:

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.

I mean, come on!  If I didn't already love pageants (which I totally do), if I didn't want to read about a "self-proclaimed fat girl" (again, I do), I'd still buy because of the mention of Private School Bo.

And trust me, it was worth it.

Private School Bo was everything I hoped he'd be.  *Sigh*  He was hot-sexy-cool because he knew what he wanted, and that was Will.  He was also sort of Jordan Catalano from My So Called Life, what with all the secret stolen kisses--BUT unlike Jordan, Bo wanted to publicly claim Will as his girlfriend. It was her hang-ups that kept them apart for most of the story.

Murphy handled her main character's insecurities deftly, and as a reader, I felt for Will.  Her contrasting feelings of wanting Bo but feeling awful about her body (and therefore, herself) whenever he would touch her were heart-wrenching and believable.  This actually reminded me of a bit of Rae and Finn from MMFD tv series--which I LOVE <3.  So yes, this was a delicate issue to tackle, and I think Murphy did a great job.
Other things I enjoyed were the pageant and Will's little band of misfits, as well as the drag queens who taught the girls to strut their stuff.  I didn't appreciate how Will treated Mitch (love interest #2) in the book.  He was a kind, decent guy, and he really liked her.  But Mitch never did stand up to Patrick, his loudmouth jerk of a best friend, so yeah, he wasn't perfect either.  Also didn't love some of the thoughts that Will had about other people (namely Millie, genuinely the nicest, best person in the book).

However, overall, the book was in the tradition of some of my favorite things.  I wouldn't put it in the same category as MMFD, but I really liked this read.  Dumplin' is a contemporary YA with heart, laughter, tears, and kissy moments in equal measure.  What's not to like? :)

Happy reading,

Ninja Girl


  1. I've heard so many great things about this book!

  2. I really want to read this one! I hope I get it for xmas