Olivia's Reviews > Dumplin’

Dumplin’ by Julie   Murphy
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bookshelves: mixed-feelings

I’ve been especially eager to read this novel since the movie came out. While I’m still eager to see the movie, I’m not sure what to expect, because unfortunately, I found Dumplin’ incredibly average.

I don’t care that Willowdean was judgmental or that she makes questionable choices. That’s usually part of being a teen. What I do care about is the petty girl fights, the unnecessary love triangle, and the flat side characters. Will and Ellen’s fight was petty, and while I know we all have petty arguments with people we care about, I don’t see why it had to be so prevalent in the novel.

I didn’t like Bo. As early as 45 pages in, they’ve hung out and readers can tell that he likes Will. Pages later they kiss for the first time behind the dumpster of the fast food restaurant they work at, which, while not ideal, isn’t my problem. First, Bo doesn’t ask Will if she wants to kiss him or if he can kiss her. He simply kisses her, and while she doesn’t protest, I don’t think that’s right. Then he has her follow his car to an abandoned elementary school so they can hang out and chat at almost two a.m.; don’t get me started on that. These scenes aside, I just didn’t find myself attached to Bo in any way, and while I didn’t love Mitch either, I don’t think it was fair for Will to lead him on. If I had to choose between the two boys, I’d choose Mitch, and he basically got his heart broken and wasn’t really mentioned again.

I feel like Will was the only really developed character in the novel. Her fight with Ellen meant Ellen was only present in the beginning and the end. Callie was Ellen’s pageant friend, and Will dislikes her, though unless I missed something, I couldn’t tell you why. Hannah was cool — I always end up liking the lesbian characters — but she didn’t really open up until near the end and then I didn’t get much more of her. As for Millie and Amanda, it took almost the entire story and reading a couple of other reviews for me to even tell them apart. They blurred together as I read, even though I was at no point distracted. To me, that’s a sign of poor character development. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I can’t speak on the fat rep, as I’m not fat. The one thing I will say is that I know it’s valuable when a book has a fat protagonist whose story doesn’t revolve around weight loss, and though it crosses Will’s mind, that’s not the case here.

My two favorite things were sadly not major parts of the story. I liked Lucy’s character, but she died prior to the beginning of the novel. Only memories allowed any information about her. I also loved the drag show scene, and that the bouncer and one of the drag queens ended up becoming friends and mentors to Will, Millie, Amanda, and Hannah. Dale and Lee are the most underrated characters in the novel and you can’t convince me otherwise.

One last thing I want to say is that the pageant took up surprisingly little page time. This might be due to my own misunderstanding, but I thought it would be more relevant. Sure, the story was about the pageant, but it didn’t occur until the end and only lasted a few chapters. I’m also lowkey bitter that only the second place winner was announced.

I know I had a lot of criticisms, but I did like this novel. It was a very quick, easy read, and despite the issues I had, it wasn’t all bad. I’ll definitely see the movie, although I’m not sure if I’ll pick up Julie Murphy’s future work.

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Reading Progress

April 13, 2017 – Shelved
April 13, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
December 25, 2018 – Started Reading
December 25, 2018 –
page 123
December 25, 2018 –
page 150
40.0% "yay"
December 26, 2018 – Shelved as: mixed-feelings
December 26, 2018 – Finished Reading

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