C.G. Drews's Reviews > Dumplin'

Dumplin' by Julie   Murphy
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really liked it
bookshelves: contemporary, read-2015, young-adult

Well, WOW, that was a breath of fresh air. I was freakishly worried about this book because I loathed Side Effects May Vary. But you know what? Dumplin' was INCREDIBLE. There were a few things I was pretty squinty about (basically the romance) but it was so realistic and down-to-earth and refreshing and SOUTHERN Y'ALL. (Warning: I am Australia. I don't even know what Southern is. The ya'll's just amuse me.) Oh! Oh! OH! And the best part? It's about a beauty pagent so do you know what comes next?
Heck yes.
(I love that movie, by the way. It is incredible. Also Michael Caine. BUT MOVING ON.)

The characters are downright fabulous. They're not perfect, gosh, they're riddled with flaws, but everyone is interesting and dimensional. I didn't agree with all the characters actions...actually, Willowdean (the protagonist) rubbed me up the wrong way A LOT, but I can't deny how real she felt. I'm pretty sure any girl will relate to her struggles and insecurities. And gosh, she's a character. She introduced her self as "Cashier, Dolly Parton enthusiast, and resident fat girl."
She's complex. She's really brave and doesn't give a damn what people think...most of the time. She's still insecure about her body, but -- she wants to be HAPPY in her body. She doesn't want to change. She doesn't believe she should have to change, and I really admired this. She doesn't run around being "preachy" but she stands up for other girls and when a guy catcalls, she yells obscenities back. Willowdean is the kind of protagonist I've LONGED to read about forever.

And the writing? It's very detailed and vivid. Granted, this made for slow reading, though. I'm usually a speed-reader, but I felt I had to physically slow down so I could get all the little snippets. WHICH IS GOOD. I feel like almost every sentence was utilising the sentences and painting pictures and making sure I, as the reader, was totally embroiled in the story. It mad the characters POP too.

+ It's not set solely in high school! YAY. Most of the setting, actually, is at the fastfood place they work at.
+ It's hilarious when the mother (who is in charge of the pageant) gets all righteous about how it's "not a joke" and how it's "so important" it just reminded me of Miss Congeniality so so much.
+ How there's a lot of emphasis on friends! And that growing different and up doesn't have to mean growing apart (though sometimes it can).
+ And how it smacked down cliches: like jocks aren't always stupid, and the silent broody guy isn't just beautiful and sexy -- sometimes he's a jerk too.
+ How the protagonist was pretty much a normal average person -- school, work, TV, tada. No eccentriciies. (Although I do love eccentric characters, it's nice to have someone more down-to-earth once in a while.)
+ Oh and there were tacos.

Okay, but we gotta talk about this cringing romance. It's not a smooth-clean-nice romance, and I GET THAT. It's realistic! When society views you as looking "wrong" (like Willowdean is "fat") then you're going to be plagued by anxieties. But I felt Willowdean was just a bit pathetic about this. And deluded?! Like, she wallows in thinking now one is ever going to love her -- but she basically has two dudes by the end. I MEAN, COME ON. REALLY??? I always feel weird about triangle-type relationships, because one side is always leading someone on and that's unfair and cruel. BUT ANYWAY. So Willowdean meets Bo (which is an adorable name, and reminds me of Po from Graceling, whom I also adore) at work and they have a tentative summery fling. THEN THEY BREAK UP TRAGICALLY. Why? That is an excellent question, my friends. I have no idea. I don't understand what went wrong between them. And I was focusing! I feel like it was equal parts of fault...Bo wasn't communicating the boundaries of their relationship (like would they continue or break up after summer?) and Willowdean was so OBSESSED with the fact that she was unwantable, that she made herself be unwantable by walking away.

Like. what.

(Anyway, I could be wrong about my analysation of their feelings. It was just so confusing for me to read.)

Willowdean is very self-centred. Which was hard to read about, because I can't really fathom how you can exist so deep in your own bubble that you miss what's going on. She has a mega-fight with her best friend (over selfish reasons) and she loses the boy she loves...all because it's all about HER?! I really struggled with this.

But otherwise, I feel like this is a super EMPOWERING book! It left me feeling encouraged! It left me with an epic list of quotes that I want to just, possibly, eat because they were so good. It was just so refreshing to read about a girl who isn't skinny but that's not who she is (like she's not enslaved by food through this book, actually, no binge-eating or purging). She's just a teen trying to find her way in the world. And she messes up SO BAD. But that's also realistic. And the ending is unexpected, a little bittersweet, and heartwarming. Although the romance is TOTALLY left hanging. But whatever. I'm pleased with this Dumplin. I am.

These quotes are from an ARC and should not be elsewhere, okay, yeah? I'm probs evil for posting them here BUT I CAN'T HELP IT. They be so good.

"There was some old guy catcallin' from the drive-thru. Called me sweetcheeks."
"Awww," she says. "Well, that's kind of flattering if you think about it."
"Mama, come on. No, that's gross."

(Bless this Willowdean.)

"Plus having sex doesn't make you a woman. That is so freaking cliche. If you want to have sex, have sex, but don't make it this huge thing that carries all this weight. You're setting yourself up for disappointment."

I understand that life after highschool is probably something I should be thinking about, but I can't picture me in college and I don't know how to plan for something I can't imagine.

I take one deep breath as I check the to-go bag supply underneath the register. "It's been a long day. Need some space."
Marcus mumbles something about PMS and to my surprise, from the kitchen, Bo says, "Why can't she just be having a shitty day? You don't need to make up some bullshit reason why."

"You're missing out on so much." She takes a step toward me. "Boys and dating. That kind of stuff."
I scrub my hands down my face. "You have got to be kidding me. News flash, Mom: a man will not cure my troubles."

I hear things like, "so horrible" or "I'm sorry, but she's hideous" or "why doesn't she get braces?"
That last one is the sentiment that stays with me all day because Hannah shouldn't have to get braces. Maybe she can't afford them or maybe she's scared to get them. Either way, she shouldn't have to fill her mouth with metal so that some shitheads will leave her alone.
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Reading Progress

May 3, 2015 – Shelved
May 3, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
July 1, 2015 – Started Reading
July 1, 2015 –
page 134
34.9% "IS THIS GLORIOUS BOOK FOR REAL?!!!\n \n "News flash, Mom: a man will not cure my troubles.""
July 1, 2015 –
page 134
34.9% "Reasons I'm Excited About This Book:\n 1. I can use Miss Congenitally gifs.\n 2. See above.\n description"
July 1, 2015 – Shelved as: contemporary
July 1, 2015 – Shelved as: read-2015
July 1, 2015 – Shelved as: young-adult
July 1, 2015 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-13 of 13 (13 new)

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message 3: by Melody (new) - added it

Melody Omg this sounds so great! And the quotes are, really, pure fabulousness.

message 4: by Gabby (Sagalu) (new)

Gabby (Sagalu) When you first talked about reading this book I was so super duper excited and freakin' terrified at the same time! Sounds like an awesome premise, but could it work? So glad to see it seems so, so I will definitely get this as soon as it is possible! =)

C.G. Drews @Melody: I know, right?! It's like a breath of fresh air. *happy sigh*

@Gabby: YAY!! I'm curious to see what you think, too! I need people's reviews to read. xD

message 6: by Kelly (new)

Kelly I loved Miss Congeniality so hearing that this reminds you of that movie and about how realistic and unique it is (to me at least) makes me really want to read it!

C.G. Drews @Kelly: IT SO FREAKISHLY GOOD. The best thing I've read in a while actually. *nods*

message 8: by FlossAus (new) - added it

FlossAus Yay!

Maria Totally agree with you! I did think Will was being a tad dramatic, I mean you have two guys chasing after you and you still think no guy is going to love you just cause you weigh more than the other girls! NO!!

message 10: by Zareena (new) - added it

Zareena Wow, this book sounds so good! Usually the romance is a big part for me but I think in this case I would not be reading for the romance (I'm thinking it might piss me off a little). Great review!

Leigh (bibliosky) Lol I loathed Side Effects, too! I'm glad you gave this book a 4 stars. I'm halfway through the book and I can see myself giving this a 4 stars as well. Who knows, maybe if something big happens I'll bump it up.

La La I could not put this down last night. Your description of "a breath of fresh air" is perfect.

message 13: by Doms (new)

Doms Candels I also hated Side Effects May Vary, but this review gives me hope that Dumplin' would change my first impression about Julie Murphy. Great review! ☺♥

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