Dumplin’ | A Book Review

Posted October 15, 2015 by Carlisa in Book Reviews / 5 Comments

Dumplin’ | A Book ReviewDumplin' by Julie Murphy
Published by Balzer + Bray on September 15, 2015
Genres: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Gifted

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.

Dumplin’ is a book that has received all the hype and all the love among book bloggers. And when I say “all the hype,” I mean it. Like people were doing the “Dumplin’ pose” and posting pictures (aka the pose on the cover), people were tweeting about it, people were blogging about it. It was just all over because apparently it was just that good. So when I saw the opportunity to get my hands on a copy of the ARC from a fellow blogger, I grasped it eagerly. And I wasn’t disappointed.

Dumplin’ is about a girl named Willowdean, a confident girl who owns it when she calls herself “fat.” She believes in herself enough to like who she is…until a boy. Because that’s what boys do, they ruin everything. Not really, but close enough. She starts to question herself, who she is, what she believes in. A lot of things. She becomes filled with doubt. And then the book is about her finding herself again, and finding her to be even better than she had ever believed.

I read one review where a person really ragged on this book, calling Willowdean a hypocrite. She quoted a bunch of lines where Willowdean does kind of criticize those around her in her thoughts. Never really in her actions, but the way her thoughts are formed. When she saw others around her, like a girl who was bigger than she or even the skinny girls, she kind of criticized them without realizing. I am in total agreement with the review that Willowdean was critical and that it wasn’t okay. But what bothered me was that all those quotes are from the beginning of the book. Willowdean grows a lot in this book. In the beginning, she’s actually kind of annoying in some ways and hard to sympathize with. But she grows. And that’s the entire point. She doesn’t only find confidence in herself, but she’s able to better see the value in everyone around her. Which sounds totally cheesy and cliché…but it’s not. Because we don’t usually see this story from a self-proclaimed fat girl. All too often we see it from the side of the already-popular girl who has to overcome a really hard thing and then realizes how badly she’s treated those around her. Willowdean doesn’t have that same experience and it’s something that is completely new to the YA book world.

And that’s why I think all teen girls should read this book. It’s important. For any girl that’s suffering from self-esteem issues. Which let’s be honest: every teen girl is suffering from self-esteem issues. It’s something that comes with the package. But honestly, for a girl who feels alone and unworthy of friendships and the things she wants…this book could be life-changing. Maybe that’s saying too much, I don’t know. But maybe it’s not…?

One thing, though…I didn’t like the boy. You can’t see me right now, but I’m shaking my head because I just did not like him. He did not treat her well and while he kind of shaped up his act, I just couldn’t get over it. I’m still shaking my head. I LIKED THE OTHER BOY BETTER. Dsajdklsadjsaidosja.

But anyways. That’s what I have to say. I think this book has an important message that’d be good for any girl to hear, not just the “fat” ones. It’s a book about finding yourself, about friendships, about love, about family, about confidence and self-worth, about hope for a better time, about overcoming hard things, and about Dolly Parton…so, you know. It’s pretty dang good.

dolly parton


  • Nancy Kay Cramer

    Sounds like a good one to put on my to-read list!!

  • I don’t know why, but I always resist reading these books that EVERYONE seems to love. I know I’ll probably love it too, but it’s like, I’m tired of it before I’ve even read it, just because I see it everywhere! It does sound good though, I’ll probably end up picking it up once the hype dies down.

    • I think that’s a common thing. The hype monster can be a scary thing that either leads to you reaaaaally liking it as well or an even bigger let down than if you had just picked it up on your own. I’m kind of experiencing that with Illuminae right now. The hype is HUGE, and I had pre-ordered it but now it’s just sitting on my shelf because I’m afraid to open it because what if I don’t love it? #thestruggle

  • I don’t know why, but I haven’t really felt the desire to pick this one up. I guess I sort of feel like I couldn’t relate to Willowdean? After reading your review, though, it does seem like there are other important messages, too. PS That Dolly Parton gif is perfect.

    • Yeah, depending on the person, I think she might be hard to relate to. I kind of did because her attitude and my attitude are not really the same at all throughout most of the novel. Like I said, she honestly kind of annoyed me and I think it was mostly because of her attitude.

      But if you ever get the time, it’s a good one to pick up. Very feel-good at the end.