Caroline's Reviews > Dumplin'

Dumplin' by Julie   Murphy
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it was ok
bookshelves: disappointing

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.
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Reading Progress

June 23, 2015 – Shelved
June 23, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
October 1, 2015 – Started Reading
October 5, 2015 –
page 172
44.79% "I don't like Willowdean much, she's so hypocritical! She judges literally everyone but gets salty when other people do the judging wut"
October 6, 2015 – Finished Reading
August 17, 2019 – Shelved as: disappointing

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)

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Melissa (Ever So Mela) Great review :)

Misty Yes! Thank you! This review is everything I thought about the book.

Todd But isn't her hypocrisy much more authentic than if she were a saint? I guess I prefer characters that have shades of grey than pure virtue or evil.

Caroline I like authentic and flawed characters in books. Flaws make them real. I didn't expect Willow to be 'pure virtue' but I wanted her to not be an asshole.

message 5: by The Book Crusader (last edited Dec 02, 2016 02:50AM) (new) - added it

The Book Crusader I don't know about the rest of you, but I cannot stand false advertising in any form.

Just imagine someone who's sick of dealing with the same insecure young-adult protagonist and body-shaming cliches picking up this book, seeing the big selling point of it is: Willowdean has always been at home in her own skin. --only to discover on the first read that that couldn't be further from the truth.

I find that to be as deceitful as a restaurant that claims "made from scratch" biscuits when they actually just reheat frozen ones.

Whitney “A handful of pretzels” will not give you diabetes. If I’m being liberal, I would guess a “handful” is MAYBE 20 pretzels? According to, that’s about 60 calories of pretzels. Real diabetes trap 🙄 Her friend, Ellen, is constantly described as eating chips. In one chapter, she eats half a bag by herself. But she’s thin, so it’s okay, right? No worry about Ellen getting diabetes from a snack that is arguably worse and contains more calories than that handful of pretzels Will ate in ONE chapter 😒 And, as someone who is plus-size, who had a parent who forced me to watch those exploitative TLC shows about morbidly obese people and threatened to send me to fat camp while emotionally abusing me, that is 100% not ok and going to cause drama and insecurity. 

Body positivity is for everyone. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and continue to say it until people get it through their heads: YOU DO NOT KNOW SOMEONE’S HEALTH STATUS BY LOOKING AT THEM! Many people who are thin are unhealthy and many people who are bigger don’t have medical issues aside from weight. You ALSO don’t know if that person HAS been working on their weight or HAS lost weight. You saying things like “body positivity is for people who have worked hard to overcome the stigma attached to their body type” only acknowledges the end result, NOT the work it takes to get there. Science backs up that the tough love approach DOES NOT work and is more likely to cause someone to quit losing weight and start eating again. If you actually care, you would stop saying things like that.

Caroline Yeah this definitely isn't my finest review. I wrote this in 2015, fresh out of a nursing degree, so I was very 'EAT HEALTHY DONT GET DIABETES' and you're completely right to call me out on it so thank you! Maybe I should edit that bit out because it really doesn't reflect my views any more and I don't want people to read it and feel bad about themselves.

I think the bigger issue I had with Willow as a character was that she was pro body positivity for herself but shamed others. She called people 'skinny bitches', said she was glad she wasn't 'that kind of fat' about another character. Plus I recall there being some comment she made about someone's corrective shoes but I read it ages ago so I don't remember.

Thanks again for your comment! I'd forgotten this review but I'm glad your bought it to my attention, you're completely right that you don't know someone's health status by looking at them!

Whitney Thank you for understanding. I agree that Willow is hypocritical af and she is problematic. I’m halfway through this book and thinking about DNF-ing because she’s so unlikable. I agree with many of your points, I just really was upset about that point.

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