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Dumplin'

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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.

371 pages, Hardcover

First published September 15, 2015

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About the author

Julie Murphy

38 books5,508 followers
Julie Murphy lives in North Texas with her husband who loves her and her cats who tolerate her. After several wonderful years in the library world, Julie now writes full-time.

When she’s not writing or reliving her reference desk glory days, she can be found watching made-for-TV movies, hunting for the perfect slice of cheese pizza, and planning her next great travel adventure.

She is also the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the young adult novels Dumplin’ (now a film on Netflix), Puddin’, Pumpkin, Ramona Blue, and Side Effects May Vary. Her middle grade novels include Dear Sweat Pea and a forthcoming 2023 title. She is also Disney's If The Shoe Fits, a modern day romcom retelling of Cinderella. Her writing partner is Sierra Simone and their romance debut is A Merry Little Meet Cute.

Julie has been featured in places liek Good Morning America, The New York Times, and Teen Vogue. Dumplin' was also named one of the best young adult books of all time by Time Magazine.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 11,510 reviews
October 1, 2015
This book is a hypocritical mess. There are three main things wrong with it:

1. It was boring
2. It's not body-positive for a book that's about body positivity
3. A love triangle (boo! hiss!)

Doesn't that defeat the purpose of this book? I would say it does. This book is vastly inferior to the spectacular Future Perfect, which sends the message of being comfortable in your own body in a far better way.

The main character in this book is fat. She is also an insecure, judgmental snit. Look, I get that characters aren't perfect. I'm not perfect (gasp, horror, etc.) but characters should elicit sympathy in a reader and it is supremely hard to do that when the main character is constantly judging others whom she deem to be lesser and uglier and fatter than she is.
I’m fat, but Millie’s the type of fat that requires elastic waist pants because they don’t make pants with buttons and zippers in her size. Her eyes are too close together and her nose pinches up at the end. She wears shirts with puppies and kittens and not in an ironic way.
It's hard to send a message of body positivity and acceptance in others when the main character tends to skinny-shame, however contrite she feels about it.

The main character is an insecure mess, and not in a good way.
Millie and Amanda together are basically one giant moving target that says MAKE FUN OF US.

Amanda’s legs are uneven, so she wears these thick corrective shoes that make her look like Frankenstein. (At least according to Patrick Thomas.) When we were kids and she didn’t have her shoes yet, Amanda just limped around, her hips swiveling up and down with each step. She never seemed bothered, but that didn’t stop people from staring. The nickname thing is pretty lame if you think about it. Frankenstein was the doctor, not the monster.
I don't sympathize with her. I want her to grow the fuck up and get over it. Again, a book should make me feel for the character; the only thing the interestingly named Willowdean does for me is grate on my nerves. It's not that I have a problem with her insecurity, it's that it is a constant part of her life and her narrative for a book that promises me a tough girl. It's that she is slyly judgmental against all the skinny pageant girls.
Cliques of girls sit at round tables with white tablecloths, the same ones my mother ironed in our living room last night. The legacy girls with mothers and sisters who have been crowned. Athletes trying to beef up their college résumés. The cheer table, which consists of anyone who does anything at a football game that doesn’t include a ball. And the theater and the choir girls, of course. All of them wear dresses. Like, Easter dresses. Precious little garden dresses with matching cardigans. While we are wearing nothing more than jeans and T-shirts.
Because she's so superior, being normal. Being fat.

Willow is a supreme bitch to her beautiful, slim best friend, El. When Willow decides to send a message and enter a pageant (with odds of zero in her favor), El decides to join forces with her. United we stand, right? Wrong. Having her best friend with her is the last thing Willow wants.
“Have you thought about the fact that I feel as out of place here as you do?”

“You have to back out. El, for me, you’ve got to. Let me have this one thing.”

“What? Let you have what? You can’t pick and choose who joins the revolution.” She makes air quotes as she says “revolution.”

I hear the logic in her voice. I recognize the truth there. But if El entered, she could really win. And that’s why she could ruin this.
It's like El said. You can't pick and choose your message.

Furthermore, nothing happens in this book. Willow goes about her life. Willow meets people. Willow talks to people. Willow has a crush. All that's fine and good in the hands of a good writer, because after all, the majority of contemporaries are just about people going about their lives. The writing in this book does brilliant to make this book shine. You could skip half the book and not miss much. Most of the book isn't worth reading anyway.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,964 reviews294k followers
September 1, 2015
Dumplin' might be the perfect example of why I don't tend to read light-hearted, fluffy contemporaries.

Occasionally, my foray into this sub-genre ends with surprising new favourites like Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, but mostly I'm left feeling a little underwhelmed. Many times, I'm thinking "yeah, that was quite a nice book" or "that had an important message" but I don't feel any emotional connection to it.

The thing about Dumplin' is that it contains a great message. Willowdean "Dumplin'" Dickson is fat - and no, that is NOT an insult to her. She deals with other people's judgey eyes but, for the most part, she doesn't care. She's happy with who she is and other people can go screw themselves if they think differently.
I know that fat girls are supposed to be allergic to pools or whatever, but I love swimming. I mean, I’m not stupid. I know people stare, but they can’t blame me for wanting to cool off. And why should it even matter? What about having huge, bumpy thighs means that I need to apologize?

This is an extremely body-positive book, which is a great thing. It's very much about breaking down stereotypes, learning not to judge, and learning to love yourself. Willowdean is not perfect and sometimes gets judgmental too when put in a bad mood, but she chastises herself for it:
“And who the hell was that twiggy bitch?” As soon as it’s out of my mouth I regret it. All my life I’ve had a body worth commenting on and if living in my skin has taught me anything it’s that if it’s not your body, it’s not yours to comment on. Fat. Skinny. Short. Tall. It doesn’t matter.

As well as this, it's very sex-positive too. Willow is a virgin but she offers support to her best friend when she chooses to sleep with her boyfriend and it doesn't turn into a drama-filled horror story when she finally does.

Murphy introduces complex relationships between Willow and her friends and family. She also opened up an all new can of worms when she decided to include so many references to my beloved Dolly Parton (yes, I love her! yes, I have seen her in concert! she is a goddess of joy and inspiration). But more about that later.

But I just think a book needs to have a little more than this to draw you in - it needs to be moving, thrilling, exciting or (as I thought this would be) funny. And it's not really any of those. I never laughed, teared up, realized something new, or wondered what would happen next. The pacing is slow and the actual pageant doesn't rear its head until the second half of the book. I like this book mostly because I'm glad a book with this message exists.

Also, I understand why Murphy included the romance, but I never felt any chemistry between Willowdean and Bo, AND it did seem a little bit like wish fulfillment. I know the author wanted to show that big girls are not unattractive and have normal relationships and dates with guys, but did it really have to be a drop-dead gorgeous jock type? I had to roll my eyes at that one.

But one last thing - DOLLY PARTON. If she is not currently your go-to playlist when you need a pick-me-up, you seriously need to get on it! Here, I'll help:

Wildflowers
Backwoods Barbie
Better Get to Livin'
Eagle When She Flies
Just Because I'm a Woman (What a feminist!)
I've always been misunderstood because of how I look.
Don't judge me by the cover 'cause I'm a real good book.

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Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,576 reviews33.9k followers
June 22, 2015
If this book were a movie, we'd all be at Julie Murphy's slumber party piled in front of the TV in our jammies, both screaming with laughter and clutching each other the minute someone leaned in for a kiss.

This book is: Hilarious. Quietly poignant. Provocative.

This book contains: Nuanced friendships and complex families. Romantic moments as sweet as puppy dog kisses. Lots of Dolly Parton songs. References to awesome books.

And it's so great to find a book that is fiercely positive, most especially about body image, identity, and self-love. The best stories let you live for awhile in someone else's skin and allow you to experience the world in way you haven't before. Being inside Willowdean Dickson's head is a joy, not only because it's so easy to sympathize with and relate to her, but also because that sassy Texas attitude makes her so damned funny.

I loved the everyday experiences of the first part of the book, when Will is going to work and school and dealing with drifting apart with her BFF, and struggling with her sadness over her aunt's recent death and her mom's imperviousness to her feelings. Not to mention the KISSES. I wasn't as into the pageant part that dominated the second half, but it was handled in a way that felt both realistic and satisfying. (Thank heaven it didn't feel false or manipulative--or even worse, zany.) True story: looking up "pageant mums" will both horrify and delight you.

I'm also super jealous of all the kids who get to frequent Julie Murphy's branch, because she's got to be the coolest library lady that ever was. I've seen photos of that Where the Wild Things Are tattoo.

Um...a more polished review at some point when it's not 3:30 in the morning. But seriously, put this one on your list.
Profile Image for Maria.
65 reviews8,495 followers
March 17, 2019
3/5 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️
“I guess sometimes the perfection we perceive in others is made up of a whole bunch of tiny imperfections, because some days the damn dress just won't zip.”


Look, 3 stars isn't a good rating nor a bad rating. But the issues I had with this book sometimes overcame the good stuff. I can't stop comparing the book to the Netflix movie based on it I saw beforehand (yes, I have watched the movie adaptation before reading the book yet again, AND STILL YOU HAVEN'T SLAYED ME YOU BUFFOONS) and I feel the movie did some things more justice.

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.

Starting from the bad, the addition of the love triangle took many things away from the story. First of all, the first 150 pages were completely useless. They were everything about Bo and all this smooch smooch romantic shit and the important storyline of the pageant hadn't even started yet. I'm not saying the romantic part couldn't be the book... but this book wasn't about that. This book was about body positivity and family and friendship and the whole romantic thing, that was emphasized a lot, took points from the story for me. At some point, the pageant story felt like a subplot to the romantic story. I felt like the book was torn in half, one chapter was the love triangle plot and the other half the pageant plot. It was like reading two different books. Confusing af. And come on now, let's be real. Everyone and their mother knew Mitch didn't stand a chance. Come the fuck on.

The movie did an incredible job highlighting the true meaning of the story. They completely eliminated Mitch's character and Will's inner struggle of whom she was gonna pick and shit, and gave more screen time to the pageant and the characters and the friendships. It was fucking beautiful. The movie gave me feels the book didn't achieve to. And it's mostly the other way around for me.

Now... what I liked. I loved all the characters, they were all unique and quirky and themselves and they all stood out from each other, which is really hard to achieve. They all hard something to add to the table, they all meant something to Will and they all gave us an important lesson to take away. Also, gotta love the diversity. This book was so modern and yet so vintage with the Dolly Parton love and the old feeling I got from it (also the lack of technology talk), and yet so modern because of the theme and the characters. It gave a smile on my face at some parts, that's for sure.

Overall, this book would have been a five star read for me if not for the love triangle. Mostly, love triangle don't bother me much but the love triangle in this book brought it down. I want to read the next book, but I will hold myself, for now. Maybe it will become a Netflix movie and will be better than the book again, who knows. Anyway, till the next one K KYE!
Profile Image for Faye, la Patata.
492 reviews2,115 followers
September 3, 2015
Once upon a time, I was fat.

I would have liked to use the nicer term "overweight", but who am I kidding? Almost weighing 70 kilos in my 5 feet 3 inches frame, I was fat and unhappy. I had big fucking boobs, big bulging sides, big buttcheeks, big arms, thighs that met together in at least one tangent, and the fact that my cheeks were already chubby without the added fat? Unhappiness galore. I tried to convince myself that even though I looked this way, I should still exude confidence because my physical appearance didn't and shouldn't decide my worth as a person, but after countless, "Oh, dear! Look at how you've grown!" from uncles and aunts who drop by every 2 months, after having to look for pants two to three sizes larger because I gained more weight again, after having seen your friends get hit on and try out sexy-as-fuck clothes and look so effortlessly fabulous, and you were stuck with pants and loose shirts, it started getting old, and fast.



It came to that point where whenever I heard the term mataba (fat) or malaki (big), I'd get so insecure and anxious. I'd want to get out of the scene and then hide until everyone was gone. I'd start thinking how inadequate I was, how much I was missing out on just because I wasn't as sexy or as fabulous as other girls. I'd start crying to myself why the fuck I was this way. Why did my mom had to come from a family of big people? Who didn't my dad come from a family that was tall and glamorous? I struggled so hard during this phase, and it became that motivation for me to shed down the weight, because I didn't want these wordsto keep haunting me like a ghost that just won't go away. It was mentally, emotionally, and psychologically traumatizing for me.

I've lost weight then. I've become confident. I feel better now in my own skin and body.

But I do wish this book had already existed during that time of my life, because maybe I wouldn't have hated myself that much then. Willowdean is fat, and she doesn't care. I mean, she does feel insecure about herself sometimes (like everybody else does), but she is fairly confident in her own body, although she does struggle with the judging and teasing of her peers when it comes to body types that are not deemed "beautiful" by society. Willow sets out to change that, by joining a beauty pageant, and inspiring deemed "fat/queer" girls to join her as well.

I loved Will's character and attitude. She was a mix of the ME I was back then, and the ME that I wish I was back then. Her insecurities were the things that I was anxious about on a daily basis, the only difference is that Willow decided to do something about it, and to prove to others wrong that someone's being fat is not a cause for them to not do the things they want to do. That just become someone is queer doesn't mean they can't win a fucking beauty pageant. That just become someone has a buckteeth doesn't mean they can't feel and be beautiful. This was a light-hearted book that talked about heavy issues and made them inspiring, enlightening, and so, so positive.

I used to be fat, and I used to be ashamed of it. Willow made me realize just how wrong I was for feeling so, for letting people's opinions weigh me down and decide how worthy I was. Fat is just an adjective, but that doesn't make up the whole of me.

Aside from the strong messages that was in this book, I was in awe of the female friendships and family dynamics that were portrayed here, and how much Will has grown so much as a character through these unexpected bonds. There were so many complex themes that played out between each and every one of them - the relationship between a fat daughter and a mother who was still stuck in her glorious days as a beauty pageant winner; between two best friends who come from two opposite sides of the spectrum; between a girl and a boy whose worlds are far apart; among four females who were shunned as outcasts because of how they looked. I loved each and every one of them, and how positive this book made them out be. Yes, there were drama, but it wasn't the exhausting kind where you'd want to haul the book into the trash can. They were the kind that tingled and pulled your heart a little bit, then warmed you all over.

Plus, there's a ship that unexpectedly made me want to clutch my heart. A romance rarely does that to me.

Dumplin' is something to behold. It speaks to every one of us who have felt insecure and frustrated with ourselves - by the way we look, or the way we act, or simply because by the way we simply are, all insecurities brought about by social pressure and norms. It speaks to that side of us who looked for reasons to feel confident in ourselves. This book gives that to you and lets you realize that at the end of the day, we're not made up by the labels society imposes upon us. I am me because of the experiences, values, and things that make up me; and you are you for the same reasons, too. Fat, or short, or queer, or straight, or thin, or healthy - who the fuck cares? Let's not make these things define us. Life is so much more than that.

This book makes you want to scream, "Yeah, I used to be fat! Maybe in the future I'll get fat again! But you know what? FUCK THAT SHIT CAUSE EITHER WAY I'M BEAUTIFUL!"
Profile Image for jessica.
2,535 reviews32.6k followers
February 22, 2019
‘all my life i have had a body worth commenting on and if living in my skin has taught me anything its that if its not your body, its not yours to comment on.’

this is a book i wish i had in high school but a story i can still appreciate today. in fact, anyone who has ever had insecurities or issues with their body (which is literally everyone) should read this.

there are such a wholesome messages in this book - how loyalty is the key to meaningful friendship, no one can love you until you love yourself, true beauty is who you are and not what you look like - that i am able to overlook some of the slight negatives that stood out. because the idea of body positivity is one that i am super passionate about and something that needs to be represented in literature more often.

i love how this story explores and really praises the fact that everyone comes in different shapes, sizes, colours but that doesnt mean people arent special or important because of it. it doesnt mean beauty is a set standard. it doesnt mean those who look a certain way are better than others.

it means we are all unique and lovely and wonderful. it means those who think otherwise are not worth thinking about at all. and it means that you are the best you that only you can be.

so in the wise words of queen dolly parton herself - find out who you are and do it on purpose.

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Natalie Monroe.
593 reviews3,541 followers
May 2, 2017
2.5 stars

"If you're gonna go, then go
She said to me on the phone
So tired of hearin' all your
Boy problems
If you're gonna stay then stay
He's not gonna change anyway
So tired of hearin' all your
Boy problems"




Dumplin' is about Dolly Parton and I opened with a Carly Rae Jepsen song. One, because I'm not familiar with Dolly's music. Two, Boy Problems describes Dumplin' perfectly. I'd wager half the book is angst over boys and romance instead of the promised pageant revolution.

Willowdean is fat—and she knows it. She doesn't go on unnecessary diets to change herself and is comfortable enough to slip on a swimsuit and go swimming with her bestie.

"There's something about swimsuits that make you think you've got to earn the right to wear them. Really, the criteria is simple. Do you have a body? Put a swimsuit on it."


Then she meets a boy at work, Bo, commonly referred to as Peachbutt because he's a fine slice of fruit on a summer's day. Nearing the school year, she breaks up with him because she can't stand the stares that comes with a fat girl dating a cute guy.

Here's where Dumplin' falls apart for me.



Based on the blurb, I anticipated Willowdean to be a sassmaster confident in her own skin. Instead I get an angsty insecure mess told in a, frankly, run-of-the-mill YA heroine narrative voice. I wanted punch and fizz and got milk and cinnamon.

There's nothing wrong with feeling inadequate about your body. It's a natural feeling and on any other occasion, I would be thrilled to see it addressed in such a relatable manner.

But it's not what I ordered. It's not what the blurb promised. For once, I wanted to read a book narrated by a heavyset girl who doesn't give two fucks about her weight or what strangers think. And joins a beauty pageant to show 'em fat-bottomed girls make the rockin' world go round.



Willowdean doesn't join the pageant until halfway through and that's after endless fluffy moments and boring everyday occurrences. The pacing is ridiculously slow. I didn't expect romance to make up a huge chunk and for it to be utter wish-fulfillment. Seriously, what are the odds of two guys—one hot loner (Bo) and a football player (Mitch)—being interested in the same girl?

Willowdean leads Mitch on, let's get that out of the way. No, it's not a matter of male privilege. Willowdean has done squat to demonstrate she's not interested in him, despite pining for Peachbutt. They've gone on on dates, they've held hands, they've kissed—she freaking writes his name on her face in permanent marker to ask him to the Sadie Hawkins dance.

"I shouldn't but I move to kiss [Bo]. My nerves hum and this moment when my body feels both chaotic and determined is what was missing with Mitch."




It's selfish, disgusting, and destroyed any redeeming qualities this book had, like female friendships and a positive outlook on sex.

Ultimately, I'd compare Dumplin' to Meghan Trainor's hit All About That Bass. It attempts to promote a body-positive message, but ends up shading women who aren't curvy. Dumplin' had the ingredients for success and squandered them.

What a waste of potential.

ARC provided by Edelweiss. All quotes taken from an uncorrected galley proof and may be subject to change.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,450 reviews7,563 followers
July 8, 2020
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

EDIT FOR INDEPENDENCE DAY RE-READ (BECAUSE WHAT ELSE IS A HOLIDAY FOR IF NOT TO CHANNEL YOUR INNER SLOTH AND READ TWO BOOKS IN ONE DAY????): Bumping to 5 Stars because there ain't nothing more 'Murican than Texas, beauty pageants and Dolly Parton.


BUUUUUUUUUMP!!!!!!!!!! Because this premieres on Netflix tonight and I'm so excited to go home, put my PJs on, cozy up in bed, turn on the boobtube and shove my face full of what I lovingly call "diabetes in a bag" like my faaaaaaaaar removed teenage self . . . .



ORIGINAL REVIEW:

Most of my friends gave this one a “meh” rating, but I FREAKING LOOOOOOOOVED it . . .

Palm Springs commercial photography

They obviously all read it wrong (j/k). They also might have actually ponied up some dollars for it, but it was gifted to me by a wee tipsy witch on Festivus Eve.

Meet Willowdean Dickson . . .

“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?”

Remind you of anyone?????



Yep. Me too. It didn’t take long, however, to realize that Willowdean’s sassy persona was merely a front and that she was your average, insecure, teenaged girl. And I loved her. In a world of YA where the characters’ voices sound older than a geezer like me it was refreshing to read someone so realistic.

So what was Willowdean’s story about? Well, pull up a chair and let me fangirl tell you. Willowdean (or Dumplin’ as her momma calls her) is a plus-sized 16 year old who lives waaaaaay down South in Texas with her momma, a former beauty queen and current organizer of her small town’s annual local pageant . . .

Palm Springs commercial photography

When not attending school or hanging with her bestie Ellen, Will works part-time at the local Harpy’s – which my brain WOULD. NOT. STOP. calling “Hardee’s” and I’ve been craving a monster thickburger ever since . . .

Palm Springs commercial photography
(You’re welcome, fellas)

Anywho. Needless to say, Willowdean’s day-to-day is not one filled with thrills and chills. That is until her new co-worker “Private School Bo” takes an interest in her . . .

“My first kiss, which took place behind a Harpy’s Burgers & Dogs and next to a dumpster full of day-old trash. Yes, it was perfect.”

It was perfect until Will realizes that Bo will be switching schools and apparently their summer romance wasn’t quite what she thought it was . . . .

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(*insert sad face*)

And that’s when Willowdean decides enough is enough and it’s high time people get treated like people no matter what their size. How is she going to bridge the gap between fat and thin? Why, by entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant, of course. But she can’t do it on her own . . .

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This book may not have been perfect, but I gobbled it right up anyway. My only real complaint? The romance. I realize that the heart wants what it wants (thank you, Selena Gomez), but does it always have to be this guy????

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(*cough douche cough*)

Why can’t it be this guy every once in awhile????

Palm Springs commercial photography

Realistically, if I were a teenager again I’d probably be shallow and go for the hot one too so I can’t get too angry. Especially if he said stuff like this . . .

“Willowdean Opal Dickson, you are beautiful. Fuck anyone who’s ever made you feel anything less.”

Plus, when complete and total A.W.E.S.O.M.E. is also contained within the pages . . .



Nearly anything can be forgiven. It’s time every girl realizes . . .

“There’s a beauty queen in that cute, little fat girl.”

“No,” I say. “That cute little fat girl IS a beauty queen.”


And then when you grow up? You can REALLY be brave . . .

https://vimeo.com/125347592

Palm Springs commercial photography

My friend Anna liked this one even more than I did and wrote up a great review. Go check it out.
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
916 reviews13.9k followers
August 6, 2015
I had such high hopes for this book but it was just.... average. The characters weren't amazing, the story wasn't amazing, etc. I was really excited to read this because I love reading books about fat girls, but her size was rarely mentioned. I know the book isn't supposed to focus on her weight, but I found it a little less relatable than i'd like because it failed to give descriptions of her size. Like at one point near the end of the book, it was talking about how she pulled her knees up to her chest and the fat girl in me just went nuh-uh. my knees haven't touched my chest in 17 years. But anyway, this book was just forgettable, and it makes me sad because I was really looking forward to this. Nothing about it was grand and spectacular, and although I liked the writing style, I wish it could have been tweaked to pack more of a punch. The beauty pagaent that this book centers around took place in like 20 pages and there was barely any explanation about it.

I would still suggest reading this, but if this is one of your most anticipated books of 2015 like it was for me, you might work on lowering those expectations right about now.
Profile Image for Christy.
3,818 reviews32.4k followers
September 30, 2016
4.25 stars!

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“Find out who you are and do it on purpose” -Dolly Parton

Dumplin’ was one of those books I devoured. When I listen to an audio book, I know I’m really into it when I have great books sitting on my kindle waiting for me to read, but I’m finding inconsequential tasks to do around the house just so I can listen. It took me less than 2 days to listen to this book, which is super fast for me. There are so many parts in this story that were relatable to me. I adored our heroine, Ms. Willowdean Dixon.

Our leading lady has an ex-beauty queen mother, her best friend Ellen, and an addiction to all things Dolly Parton. She’s in high school and has just recently started working at Harpy’s, a local fast food joint. It’s there that she meets Bo. Bo used to be a jock and is someone Will is attracted to. She’s shocked when she finds out he likes her too. This story has an element of romance, which I loved, but that’s not what the story was about. It was, more than anything, a story of acceptance and self discovery.

Willowdean doesn’t have the same body most of her friends do. I wouldn’t say she’s fine or happy with it, she has insecurities just like everyone else, but slowly she embraces who she is. She realizes that no one has the right to comment on anyones body but their own.
“All my life I’ve had a body worth commenting on and if living in my skin has taught me anything it’s that if it’s not your body, it’s not yours to comment on.”

Will decides, to prove a point, she will enter the beauty pageant her mother once won and helps run every year. Along with a fun group of misfit girls from her high school, she makes a stand. I grew to love this group of girls and the effect they had on Willowdean. There was so much I loved about this book. I could feel all of Will’s insecurities as if they were my own. I loved watching her grown and triumph. It was a pretty perfect story. If only the ending wasn’t so rushed. I feel as a romance reader, I’m pretty spoiled when it comes to epic HEA’s and fantastic epilogues. And I liked the way it ended, I did… but I wanted more! Either way, this was a great read. Probably one of the best YA’s I’ve read this year. If it wasn’t for the ending not giving me as much as I wanted, it would have been a 5.

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Profile Image for Maureen.
507 reviews4,199 followers
November 3, 2015
THAT'S HOW IT ENDS???? I NEED MORE.

I really REALLY liked this book. The message is SUPER SOLID and fantastic, and we need more books like this.
Will is an incredible character, and all the supporting characters are so great as well. I really loved Millie and her ability to shine so bright no matter what anyone else thought. The relationships in this book were super solid, even through the ups and downs, and it was so great to see so much female friendship.
My main reasons that it's not a 5 star book is that some of it didn't feel very cohesive and didn't flow super well, and one of my least favorite tropes is in this book. I can't handle more of it sorry (and I can't say what it is because spoilers.

Overall really great book with an amazing message - it doesn't matter what you look like, but who you are.
Profile Image for High Lady of The Night Court.
135 reviews5,056 followers
June 17, 2019
Before I get into my review, I haven’t watched the movie yet, so if you have any thoughts on the movie, or the movie in relation to the book, leave your thoughts in the comments because I have to make up my mind about whether to watch the movie or not, and I would love to talk to you guys about it.

"I’m Dumplin’. And Will and Willowdean. I’m fat. I’m happy. I’m insecure. I’m bold."

This is a book about confidence, friendship, and being comfortable in your own skin. It’s a book about teenage, growing up, and growing apart.

Dumplin’ was a very impulsive read for me. I hadn’t planned to start reading it anytime soon, in fact the list of books I have planned to read is growing exponentially by the moment. I opened the book fearing the worst, that it would be an overly emotional story about a girl depressed about herself and everything she goes through, because I did not remember the blurb from when I read it last year, which I must say is becoming quite typical of me. In all honesty, this book was an amazing reading. I started it and finished it very quickly, the story moves at a great pace, and the protagonist is great while not being unrealistic.

I can’t get over how beautifully realistic this book is. The high school background, the characters, the situations they’re placed in, and Willowdean herself are extremely naturalistic. Willowdean is an amazing character with a personality to trump all else. While being aware of her weight, Willowdean is never weighed down by her appearance and focuses on being the best possible version of herself. Of course, she is also susceptible to the woes of being in high school, and her mom’s endless efforts to make her lose weight. But through it all she stays true to herself and everything she believes in. She is a determined young woman with the power accomplish whatever she wishes, and I loved that Julie Murphy took the time to show us Willowdean at her most vulnerable to convey that no one, no matter how strong we are, can go through life without feeling the ups and downs.

"I think you gotta be who you want to be until you feel like you are whoever it is you’re trying to become. Sometimes half of doing something is pretending that you can."

The setting of the book is pretty typical, in Clover City, Willowdean goes to your typical high school with its typically assorted student bodies. Willowdean’s mother is generally the host of the Miss Clover City beauty pageant, which she won when she was in high school. And every year when Pageant week starts her mother goes all in with the preparations choosing to escape from the reality of what her life has become. In this book, Willowdean’s aunt Lucy is said to have died a while ago and while Willowdean still mourns her aunt’s death her mother seems very emotionally detached from the whole situation.

Willowdean and Ellen have been best friends for pretty much their whole lives, it all started when Ellen’s mother and Willowdean’s aunt had once bonded over their love for Dolly Parton, who was a famous singer, and now both Willowdean and Ellen are also big fans. We see Willowdean and Ellen grow slightly apart in this book when the differences in their life become a bit too hard to handle. The bond between friends being a major part of this story, Willowdean and Ellen’s friendship plays a huge role in leading to character growth.

We see new friendships formed in this book when Willowdean makes the decision to join the pageant. She inspire the outcasts or unnoticed or the most frequently picked on people in the school to join too. While doing this, her long time crush Bo seems to return her feelings, but their relationship is nothing but eventful.

This book was a sweet book about friendship and family and if you haven’t read it yet you should check it out, it might surprise you.
Profile Image for ♛ may.
806 reviews3,797 followers
May 9, 2017
DNF @ 65%

What started off as beautiful body positive book. . .

description

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?

and

I know that fat girls are supposed to be allergic to pools or whatever, but I love swimming… I know people stare, but they can’t blame me for wanting to cool off…What about having huge, bumpy thighs means that I need to apologize?

Slowly turned into…constant judgement ???!!??

I’m fat, but Millie’s the type of fat that requires elastic waist pants because they don’t make pants with buttons and zippers in her size. Her eyes are too close together and her nose pinches up at the end. She wears shirts with puppies and kittens and not in an ironic way.

Which ultimately turned into. . .

My Scientific Opinion: This place is a shithole and all the girls who work here are vapid skanks who treat me like El’s charity case friend.

And we got an open invitation to the Self-Pitying Party. . .

My illusions of our after-school romance are dissolving like vapor… I won’t be ridiculed. I won’t be one-half of the couple who everyone stares at and asks, //How did she get him?//

Omg a hot guy likes you??? But you don’t want him to like you in public??? You won’t even tell your best friend about him bc your jealous she’s making friends besides you ??? and then you blame it on the guy bc CLEARLY he’s at fault???

hmmmm

10/10 rational thinking going on here.

Also love triangle warning ahead. Not only is this fabulous girl able to score her smokin’ hot crush but one of the FOOTBALL players is also checking her out, is there ANYTHING this girl, CAN’T do??!!???

Anyways, it seems to be a good book but I have 0 energy to put up with the drama that tags along.

Meh.

Less judgement, more body positivity and friendship, please.

“I guess sometimes the perfection we perceive in others is made up of a whole bunch of tiny imperfections, because some days the damn dress just won't zip.”

1.5 stars!!! (cause it made me laugh)
Profile Image for Tucker  (TuckerTheReader).
908 reviews1,597 followers
May 23, 2020
I JUST FINISHED THE MOVIE AND IT WAS AMAZING!! It was just as beautiful as the book and, okay, I admit it.... It made me cry 😢 😂
*****
I'm so happy with Young Adult literature today. Even though it all ranges from space to the forests, but it usually has the same over arching message:


And it's true. Everyone is beautiful. It doesn't matter if you black or white; gay or straight; Christian or Muslim; Big or small. It's about what's in your heart. As long as you fight against the evil and unkind, you are amazing.

🎵Red and yellow; Black and white. They are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the WORLD! Lol, sorry for the random burst of song.

Now, let's talk book! This is a rom-com, which is one of my favorite genres. But! (And it's a big but.) I felt like the book barely focused on the romance and more on Willow Dean learning to love herself, which is fine. I just wish it hadn't been branded as a rom-com.

So the romance: It was... How do you say it? Bleh. Yes, bleh. First of all because it's a subplot and so I didn't find myself caring about it at all but when I did, I cared for the wrong relationship. I hated Beau (Or is it spelled 'Bo'? I listened to the audiobook so I have no idea.). I found him annoying, stupid, and overall a jerk. Mitch on the other hand was kind, funny and caring. He was perfect for Willow Dean. But no, everyone has to fall in love with the hot stud.


Of course, when Beau and WD weren't making out (😖), WD was working on her self love by entering a pageant. Yay! Also, am I the only one who felt like WD's mom was like an evil stepmother. Is this secretly a Cinderella re-telling?

Also, also that ending was really abrupt. It was just bam! BOOK'S OVER!

Audiobook Comments:
😊

Bottom Line:
3.5 Stars: Meh with a little bit of pumpkin spice (because it's fall)
Age Recommendation: 13+ (Brief swearing, sex talk and discussions of death)
TW: Slight Fat Shaming

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Profile Image for Katie B.
1,294 reviews2,963 followers
November 30, 2018
This was a nice surprise! I really wasn't expecting to like this one as much as I did. I was kinda iffy on whether or not I was going to like the beauty pageant parts of the story but thankfully there were some good moments with that and also the other things going on in the main character's life.

What I loved most about the book was Willowdean wasn't perfect. She could be shallow, cruel, and hypocritical among other things. I found it refreshing to have a protagonist who could act like a jerk. This to me is much more realistic than the usual way YA fiction authors write their main characters. It's like they think if the character is overweight than they can't have any flaws and they become these weird caricatures that don't really resemble anyone I know. It was refreshing to have a main character who lacked self-awareness at times. I look back on growing up and even though I like to think of myself as a good person there were definitely times when I acted in a way that didn't paint me in the best light. For most of us, being a teenager was not always a good time because you are this giant mess of insecurity, raging hormones, and a mind that's not fully developed. And even though you know might know better, you still act like an ass. And big surprise, just because you are overweight doesn't make you immune from being an ass from time to time. So kudos to the author for having a main character with flaws!

I absolutely loved how Mitch factored into the story. I found myself reflecting back to crazy high school love life drama and remember exactly how it felt to be not just in Mitch's shoes but Willowdean's as well. It's not fun on either side of the equation.

Overall, this was a really enjoyable read but maybe it's not for everyone. I guess it just depends on how you view the main character. Some of the characteristics of her personality that I found endearing, could be annoying for another reader. Not every book or character works for everyone, but for me this was a good fit. I look forward to watching the Netflix movie and also reading the followup to this novel which features some of the side characters in this book.
Profile Image for Lauren.
Author 76 books119k followers
March 17, 2016
Dumplin’ is the story of Willowdean Dickson, a fat girl from a small town that hosts the oldest beauty pageant in Texas. After the sudden death of her beloved aunt, Will decides to honor her memory by signing up for the pageant. She wants to try something that her aunt had always denied herself because of her own insecurities about her weight. Now Will suddenly finds herself contending with becoming a beauty queen, her crazy pageant mother, an angry best friend, two cute boys… and maybe a small revolution.

Full disclosure, I know Julie, and love her very much as a person. She is also, however, an excellent writer. The writing in Dumplin’ is as funny and self-assured as its narrator. From the first sentence I was so immersed in the world that I felt myself dripping with Texas summer sweat. Willowdean, in particular, feels wonderfully real. She’s not cripplingly insecure, but she’s not superhumanly confidant either. Just like most of us! I loved her so much, and got so caught up in her story, that I had to buy an extra charger at the airport. There was NO WAY I was going to let my kindle die without knowing how the whole thing ended.

Essential reading for everyone who has ever felt uncomfortable in their own skin… which is everyone.
Profile Image for emma.
1,825 reviews48.6k followers
November 17, 2021
there was a time in my life when i bought every single book in the young adult section of my local Target that even looked a little bit like a romance.

when i think about the amount of money i spent in $15.19 increments (the price, according to my five-year-old memories, of a 20% off hardcover), i want to weep. if i had put it in my savings account, with inflation i could have probably bought a house. if i had played the stock market, i would likely know what the stock market is. if i had invested it in cryptocurrency, i would presumably die from complications of being annoying. but on like a gold-plated toilet or wherever rich people perish.

instead, all i have to show for it is a bunch of interchangeable teens falling in love with each other. most of which i don't even own anymore because why would i keep punishing myself.

this was good because it has body-positive representation, which was a good and rare thing in my teenage years as it is today.

but it was not good for every other reason.

part of a series i'm doing in which i review books i read a long time ago
Profile Image for Caroline.
592 reviews799 followers
November 16, 2018
SO this rating is probably closer to 2.5 stars but I decided to round it down because, even though I enjoyed this book, it has too many flaws to be worth a three star rating.

My main problem with this was that it was heralded as a book about body positivity and acceptance but it felt far from it. I found Willowdean to be quite a hypocritical character in general. Her internal monologue was filled with her judging other people; Millie, for example, who Willow points out as 'the type of fat that requires elastic waist pants because they don't make pants with buttons and zippers in her size'. I was even more frustrated that Willow was annoyed and indignant when another student was made fun of. I honestly saw Willow as no better than the other students- the only difference was that Willow didn't bully them to their face. I don't think that saying she was ashamed to admit something makes it even slightly better. She judges other people to make herself feel better. Rather than eliciting sympathy from me, I was appalled by Willow for being such a judgement butt-head.

Furthermore, Willowdean bragged about being confident in her own skin (yaasss you go gurl!) but resorted to shaming other people and their bodies. As I mentioned before, she makes fun of Millie on page three (!!!!) to make herself feel better for not being 'that kind of fat'. What? She also shames skinny people, referring to one as a 'twiggy bitch'. Having read this book, I now understand the comparison drawn between it and that annoying 'All About That Bass' song. The basic message seemed to be that being curvy is okay, and being confident is even better, but fuck skinny girls. I just couldn't get past the hypocrisy of it.

(I should point out that I don't think Willow is a bad character because she is insecure or flawed. I am insecure so I understand that facet of her. I found it frustrating that she was so judgmental of other people's insecurities. It was a really unlikable trait for her character to have.)

It also frustrated me to no end how when Ellen decides to be supportive and enter the pageant with her, Willow gets all shitty and tells her to drop out. Your friend is trying to support you and you tell her that her support isn't wanted. WHAT?! As Ellen says "You can’t pick and choose who joins the revolution.” I would have thought that standing strong and united with your best friend would be ideal, but apparently not.

I did enjoy the last portion of the book. I enjoyed the pageant and the drama surrounding it. As a whole, this book was entertaining. I liked parts of it but found Willow annoying like 80% of the time. I found the love triangle to be kind of unnecessary; her friendship with Mitch was great and I liked it but I don't think complicating it with romance achieved anything. This book was meant to be about Willow overcoming the judgement to be her most confident self, not picking which boy she liked more. Some of the parts about grief and growing up were touching and lovely. Favourite character award is a tie between Millie and Ellen because they were awesome. I don't know if I'd recommend this book to people, but I won't warn them away from it either.
Profile Image for enqi ༄ؘ 。˚ ⋆♡.
319 reviews622 followers
May 3, 2020
with all the hype surrounding Dumplin' , i'm really sorry to say this book didn't appeal to me at all. i did find the premise interesting and promising at first... but by the time i reached the 60% mark, i was mostly bored and skimming the pages. i have many things to say about it, so let me just make a list of the reasons i hated disliked this book:

1. this book was such a fucking hypocritical mess.
Beautiful, he says. Fat, I think. But can't I be both at the same time?

what started out as a beautiful book about body positivity soon became the main character, willowdean, imposing her judgements on others and insulting them. it started around 5% (that was quick!) and continued for the rest of the book.

2. willowdean was so annoying. like, i-constantly-wanted-to-bash-her-face-in kind of annoying. i am not belittling or reducing her insecurities. in fact, i completely understood her insecurities and related to them, but i expected her to have some character development by the end of the book. but all i got at the end was a love triangle and angst instead of the promised pageant revolution.

3. pointless plot. listen, after skimming the blurb any reader would expect our dear willow to win the pageant right? it would be the most fitting end to the story and the most satisfying one, too. "fat" girl defies all stereotypes by winning a beauty pageant, traditional territory of skinny girls with model figures. said plus-sized girl grows into herself and learns to love and accept her body. i was expecting all of that... but then our main girl literally gets herself DQ-ed from the competition. she actually gets disqualified. the worst part is she doesn't even have some grand epiphany to show for it. so what was the whole point of making a plot about a talent pageant and being determined to enter it in order to prove something, if you have nothing to show for it at the end?

4. at first i thought her mom was being a bitch by saying she didn't care about entering the pageant and was just doing it for fun, but by the end i was wholeheartedly agreeing with her mom. the pageant featured only when there needed to be some conflict or realisation in the plot. i thought willow had something to prove and she'd work for it, but she didn't even bother doing a talent, or costume, or anything you'd expect of someone who wanted to prove her point. halfway through she even quit on her friends, and then decided to do it again in the end.... honestly enough with the drama.

5. love triangle angst. yikes. our girl literally leads the star of the football team on AND yet still manages to snare her hot crush. she has no thought for the other guy's feelings, apparently. next.

6. zero plot arc if i haven't said this before. nothing is resolved in the end, everything was rushed to be tied up almost like the author gave up on her own book. willowdean's life doesn't change from when the book started, she doesn't have any visible takeaways from the pageant. when her crush bo asked her to be exclusive, she refused to be because she saw herself as ugly and didn't want to be gossiped about... and at the end of the book she didn't even say yes to him. i expected something. i wanted something to show that she had character development. and there was nothing.

oh well. BUT, there are some gems in this book though, and i've highlighted them and made the highlights visible to save you the trouble of reading this book and going through what i did. have a good week ahead everyone!
Profile Image for Montzalee Wittmann.
4,564 reviews2,312 followers
December 29, 2018
Dumplin' by Julie Murphy is a book and movie I kept hearing about. I am not one to follow the book trends, I like to read books off the beaten path because I find a lot of hidden gems that way but this book intrigued me.
The story is about a beauty pageant but the overall theme, ironically, is not to judge others, and to be yourself, love yourself, just the way you are!
The characters are great and the plot was predictable but good. I watched the movie after the book. I think the book is geared more for teens since it is more simplified in every aspect. For a grandmother like me and having gone through many of the teen trials and the mother's trials, which the movie seemed to show both of these equally important, I could relate to the movie more. I was laughing one minute then my eyes were leaking the next! ( Darn leaky eyes!)
I usually don't read books that cause leaky eyes but this was good, especially for teens and that was what I was reading it for, my young teen grand daughters. I wanted to see if it was good.
Profile Image for Danielle.
809 reviews403 followers
February 9, 2021
2018 F.A.B. Bookclub pick # I.❤️. F.A.B.

Quick quirky read about a stubborn fat girl with a confident rough exterior, yet shaky inner image. While parts of this story were campy and predictable, it was overall “cute” as a basket of puppies. Great overall message to be confident with who you are and never be afraid to be you.
Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,030 reviews1,046 followers
September 28, 2017
“There’s something about swimsuits that make you think you’ve got to earn the right to wear them. And that’s wrong. Really, the criteria is simple. Do you have a body? Put a swimsuit on it.”

This is one completely adorable, funny, heartwarming and inspiring contemporary YA. I regret that I hadn’t read it sooner. I love the main purpose that the book wants to put across. People spend too much time thinking they’re too fat or too thin, eyes too far apart or too close together, teeth too big or too small, skin too dark or too pale. Perhaps it’s true that somebody else is always going to be better but so what? Nobody is perfect and yes that’s cliché but in order to be comfortable with ourselves, that’s the only way to think.

Every person has insecurities even Jon Snow (no matter how confident, handsome and haaawt he looks *sighs*) and that’s perfectly okay because what a dull life would it be if we all had been so confident and so sure of ourselves all the time. These inspiring ideas were realistically and genuinely portrayed in the story through Dumplin’, the main character who is gorgeous, fat, confident, funny, awkward, beautiful and insecure all at the same time. Her uncertainties about herself are what make her human. They’re what make her relatable and true. I love the statement that she made by entering a pageant. She rocks!

The book is another eye-opening experience for me because I’m often guilty of commenting on other people’s body especially when I think they’re too thin. Simple comments like “You really should eat more” seems sweet and harmless to me until I’ve read the book reminding me that I am in no position to comment on anyone’s body unless it’s mine. I think this is a must read for every teenager out there, for everybody actually.
Profile Image for Fafa's Book Corner.
512 reviews298 followers
November 28, 2018
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Beware spoilers ahead!

Updated thoughts:

Dumplin' was read for The Dream Thieves: Badass Broads.

I'm going to be frank I literally only reread this because of the movie. If it hadn't been for the movie, I wouldn't have bothered with this book. Over the last three years I've forgotten so much. To the point where I confused character names and their personalities.

Upon my reread I'm actually surprised that I was even able to finish this! Willowdean annoyed me so much. And wow her thoughts were so cringey! For someone who preached body positivity she went against her word so many times!

Anyways moving on. So I had many problems with this. I didn't feel that Willowdean's character development was well done. Let alone any of the other characters. The romance was also very cringey. And I didn't see the point of the love triangle. Most of the characters while having real struggles felt two dimensional. I wish we got to know more about their backstories. Would've helped to flesh them out.

Onto the things I liked! The beauty pageant was still as entertaining as I remembered. Their girl's friendship was nice. I really liked Mitch. And how some of the topics that were discussed resonated with me. I would've loved to read about Aunt Lucy. I did like the girl power. And despite my issues with these characters I found them to be strong.

I'm just so conflicted because there were a lot of good messages! But I never felt that they were done right. Mentioned and just brushed aside. Maybe that's the whole point. I still wanted more. And would've loved to follow other characters aside from Willowdean.

Overall I enjoyed some parts and thoroughly disliked others. Regardless I still think it's worth the read.

This was recommended by Tash ! Click her name to see her review.

When I had first read Tash's review I knew that I must read it! I was excepting to love every bit of it and enjoy the story. While I did not love it I did thoroughly enjoy reading it.

Willowdean (more often referred to as Will) is one of the fat girls in her town. She has no problem with this and does not consider calling herself fat an insult. Every year her mother and a few others host a beauty pageant. Her mother is a former winner and still fits into the dress she wore when she won.

The book starts off during summer right before Will and her best friend Ellen are supposed to go to grade 11. Will works at Harpy's a fast food restaurant. It is revealed that Will has had a crush on Bo her co-worker for some time. Bo doesn't really talk a lot he keeps to himself so it's hard to see whether he likes any of his co-workers in any way.

One day as Will is taking the trash out she runs into Bo and he kisses her. Surprised she walks away. He sees her again and apologizes for randomly kissing her and claims that he has some personal stuff going on therefore it would be best not to date anyone. While she isn't happy to hear this she doesn't protest. The next day however he kisses her again. They have a secret relationship for 2 months. No one knows about their relationship and they keep it that way.

At that point I was ready to stop reading because the relationship between the two of them was odd and didn't really make sense. But because I bought it and hoping it would get better I read on. I am pretty happy that I did that as it did turn out to be a good story.

School is right around the corner so Will assumes that whatever she and Bo have will do done and over with soon. While dropping Ellen to get her payroll she runs into Bo and his family. His stepmother reveals that Bo will start going to Will's school. Will is shocked that she never heard this from Bo. And she can't imagine going to school with him as well as working together.

Things aren't so great with her relationship with her mother or Ellen. She feels that her and Ellen are drifting apart mostly because of Ellen's co-worker and new friend Callie who pities Will for being fat. Her aunt passed away recently so it's been hard on both her mother and her. Will felt that her aunt understood her in a way her mother never does. Her aunt and her bonded over some of the silly things her mother said. Her mother is not happy about Will being fat and she tries to subtly push her into losing weight. She does this because she thinks her Will is going to be happier if she loses weight.

Now with school beginning the pageant is also right around the corner. Which Will is not at all excited about. She hates the pageant and everything it stands for. After seeing Bo in her history class she decides to quit her job and apply for another one.

In a way of moving on from Bo she agrees to go on a date with Mitch who is in her english class. When this fails she enters the pageant. Her entering the pageant inspires 3 other girls to enter with her.

This is probably one of the most inspiring books I have ever read! I loved that Will decided to enter the pageant for her aunt and herself.

I would have liked to read more about the pageant. I felt that some points in the book the story really dragged. I really did not like how some of the characters tried to shove it down Will's throat that if she lost weight she would be happy. While a lot of people are pretty happy when they lose weight that does not mean that they weren't happy before. This is the case with me. I couldn't really see Will working out with Bo nor Mitch.

I was also impressed by the fact that Will did not feel the need to lose weight for the pageant. It was really sweet to read about the other girls entering with her. The friendship was awesome! As well as how complex the characters were and the journey all the girls took with the pageant. I liked how Will repaired her relationship with Ellen and her mother. I was not excepting the book to end the way it did. Kudos to the author for doing something unexpected.

Overall this was a really good book! I recommend it to fans of contemporary, Dolly Parton, and anyone looking for an inspiring/empowering book.
Profile Image for ♛Tash.
223 reviews212 followers
August 28, 2015
"I’m fat. It’s not a cuss word. It’s not an insult. At least it’s not when I say it."


I love this charming book about courage, set in South Texas with a Dolly Parton soundtrack. I was gonna say body image, but truth is, body image is not the central theme of this book. It figures some of course, but it’s more about the courage to retain your shape when the world dictates you to be another.

Willowdean Dickson,Dumplin' to her former beauty queen Mom, is completely fine being fat (not a pejorative term). She’s happy with the fact that she wears drawstring skirts instead of pants for her Harpy’s uniform and being a third-wheel to her bestfriend, El and secretly crushing on fry-cook hottie Private School Bo. She's content with her life until she starts having make-out sessions with Private School Bo. Instead of getting that confidence boost when a crush likes you back, Will finds herself sunk in self-doubt and insecurity.

At this point in the book, I also began to doubt myself, am I really as open-minded as I think I am, or am I just a bloody hypocrite? When Bo shows the tiniest bit of interest in Will, I was immediately suspicious of him and was waiting for the big reveal of his ulterior motive, because why else would a hot former jock with sleeve-popping biceps be interested in a fat girl? When a “safer”option in the form of a shy, sweet, plain guy was given to Will, I rooted for him instead

“I terrify you”? The thought of it makes me feel bad, but it’s kind of nice, too. To not feel like the one who’s about the jump out of their skin all the time.”


Yes, I am a hypocrite, it is a bitter pill to swallow while reading this otherwise empowering novel. Good thing Julie Murphy isn’t like me, she believes that the fat, the unevenly legged, the bucktoothed girls (and boys) also deserve the hot guy (or girl) and the crown.

In her quest to regain the confidence lost from her summer fling with Bo, she decides to join Miss Teen Blue Bonnet. With this, she inspires and alienates the people in her town. This is the part when we see how expertly Julie Murphy writes Will’s character. Will is level-headed, funny and sassy. She has quips like: “liberally spread salad dressing across my plate because on the eight day God created ranch dressing”, but she gets angry when her mother suggests diet and exercise, and she also holds certain prejudice against girls who are fatter than she is. In short, Will is a wonderfully complex character and a witty narrator.

"I think you gotta be who you want to be until you feel like you are whoever is you're trying to become. Sometimes half of doing something is pretending that you can."


If you are looking for a book that is body & female-friendship positive with a side of romance and humor then add Dumplin' to your TBRs people. Add it!

***arc gifted by the publisher for an honest review***
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Author 8 books353 followers
November 3, 2022
I just love Julie Murphy’s way of describing small town Texas high school life. Willow Dean is working at a fast food joint, swimming at the pool, crushing on a guy, and dealing with a mom who runs a beauty pageant. Also, her best friend has a new friend, Callie, who’s kind of a jerk (putting it mildly.) But things are looking up when Beau, her coworker who she totally likes, likes her back, and they start meeting up late at night to kiss. But when she and Beau see each other outside of their clandestine meetings and neither acknowledges the relationship, things quickly fall apart. Add that to Willow Dean’s mother refusing to accept that her daughter loves her body just the way it is, and Willow Dean decides to take matters into her own hands, entering a beauty pageant to prove to the world she’s confident in her own skin.

I absolutely love Julie Murphy’s characters. She writes strong, confident girls. Complicated friend relationships and high school situations you can really picture. The pageant moments were fun. I absolutely ate up every chapter of this.

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