Natalie Monroe's Reviews > Dumplin'

Dumplin' by Julie   Murphy
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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.
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Reading Progress

July 27, 2015 – Shelved
July 27, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
July 28, 2015 – Shelved as: arc
September 4, 2015 – Started Reading
September 4, 2015 –
4.0% "But the word fat, the one that best describes me, makes lips frown and cheeks lose their color.\n \n But that's me. I'm fat. It's not a cuss word. It's not an insult. At least not when I say it."\n \n "
September 9, 2015 –
38.0% "I wish Willow had a stronger narrative voice because contemporary fiction, generally, is quite slow-paced. But on whole, I'm enjoying it. \n \n "
September 9, 2015 –
41.0% ""Millie, people are cruel," I tell her. "I know that. And so does Amanda, I'm sure."\n \n Amanda nods. "Haters gonna hate."\n \n "
September 9, 2015 –
56.0% "I will throw one hell of a bitch fit if she chooses the hot, silent guy instead of the sweet teddy bear one. \n \n "
September 10, 2015 –
80.0% "Willow is a fucking bitch to Mitch, aka sweet, teddy bear guy.\n \n "
September 11, 2015 – Shelved as: could-have-been-better
September 11, 2015 – Shelved as: great-concept-poor-execution
September 11, 2015 – Shelved as: hate-the-characters-hate-the-book
September 11, 2015 – Shelved as: not-as-good-as-i-expected
September 11, 2015 – Shelved as: protagonists-i-want-to-laser-face
September 11, 2015 – Shelved as: sugar-spice-n-everything-nice
September 11, 2015 – Shelved as: typical
September 11, 2015 – Shelved as: watch-out-for-puddles-of-angst
September 11, 2015 – Finished Reading
September 25, 2015 – Shelved as: girl-squad

Comments Showing 1-22 of 22 (22 new)

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message 1: by Mizuki (new)

Mizuki Wow, judging from your statuses I thought you would like this book.


Natalie Monroe Mizuki wrote: "Wow, judging from your statuses I thought you would like this book."

I did initially. But then the MC started leading this sweet guy on while kissing this other guy and it infuriated me.


message 3: by Mizuki (new)

Mizuki Natalie wrote: "Mizuki wrote: "Wow, judging from your statuses I thought you would like this book."

I did initially. But then the MC started leading this sweet guy on while kissing this other guy and it infuriate..."


No wonder.


message 4: by Asia (new)

Asia Thanks to your review I think I'm not going to read it, if the MC is acting this way I'd be to angry with her.


message 5: by Alma Q (new)

Alma Q Ouch. Taking this one off the TBR, then. Pity it wasn't what it said on the tin. :(


Natalie Monroe @Asia it's frustrating. If the author had focused more on the pageant and less on romance, it would've been a glowing four stars.

@Scylla I was really looking forward to it, too. I might watch the movie (Disney bought the rights). The fluffy plot should translate better on screen.


message 7: by Vanessa (new) - added it

Vanessa J. Ow, damn. I guess this is one of those times when hype ruins everything. I really thought this was going to be focused more on how she felt about her body and those things, not on the... romance. Ugh. Great review, though.


Natalie Monroe Vane wrote: "Ow, damn. I guess this is one of those times when hype ruins everything. I really thought this was going to be focused more on how she felt about her body and those things, not on the... romance. U..."

I know, right? The blurb lies.


message 9: by Harisa (new)

Harisa Henderson You should try reading the Heather Wells mysteries by Meg Cabot :). And yeah, this was never on my TBR because of the bad reviews, thanks for solidifying my decision.


Natalie Monroe Harisa wrote: "You should try reading the Heather Wells mysteries by Meg Cabot :). And yeah, this was never on my TBR because of the bad reviews, thanks for solidifying my decision."

Oh, I love that series. I basically love everything Meg Cabot writes. :D


message 11: by Ana (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ana What are some other titles with fat girls and beauty pageants? I'm interested in reading more (:


message 12: by Ana (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ana Wait- wrong review sorry!


message 13: by Amanda (Hootie) (new)

Amanda (Hootie) Clark "I wanted punch and fizz. I got milk and cinnamon" epic quote! Great review!


Natalie Monroe Amanda (Hootie) wrote: ""I wanted punch and fizz. I got milk and cinnamon" epic quote! Great review!"

<3


Edmund Davis-Quinn Fun, fast read but I was like he likes you. Seriously, he likes you.


Natalie Monroe Edmund wrote: "Fun, fast read but I was like he likes you. Seriously, he likes you."

I know! I wanted to scream at her.


Angela This sums up a lot of the issues I had with this story. I wish we had spent more time on the pageant and I honestly thought Bo's character was really uninteresting.


Natalie Monroe Angela wrote: "This sums up a lot of the issues I had with this story. I wish we had spent more time on the pageant and I honestly thought Bo's character was really uninteresting."

The pageant was way more interesting.


Jayati I totally agree! The book was nice but not what was promised and well, the protagonist was not what I expected or even wanted. I hate how she treats Mitch and well, also Ellen. I mean It was El's fault too but I don't know... It just didn't seem okay, somewhere Willowdean felt shallow to me.


Natalie Monroe Jayati wrote: "I totally agree! The book was nice but not what was promised and well, the protagonist was not what I expected or even wanted. I hate how she treats Mitch and well, also Ellen. I mean It was El's f..."

I found her more mean than shallow. XD


message 21: by Jquick99 (new)

Jquick99 Stop what you’re doing right now and go listen to Jolene.


Natalie Monroe Jquick99 wrote: "Stop what you’re doing right now and go listen to Jolene."

Jolene is maybe the one Dolly Parton song I will jam to. XD


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