Blog Tour & ARC Review: Dumplin' (Dumplin' #1) by Julie Murphy17:00
Series: Dumplin' #1
Author: Julie Murphy
Published January 28th 2016 by Balzer + Bray
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.
This book has been out in America since September, and as soon as the reviews started streaming in, I knew it was a book for me. When I received the email from Harper360 about the UK release of the book in February, I immediately jumped at the chance to read it. The day the book arrived was a Saturday (the one before Christmas, actually, and my first home from uni), and because of building work on our house, I'd had to be out the house since 8am til about 2pm. Coming home to fabulous book post, just made everything so much better, and I started the book right that second!
In Dumplin', the MC, Willowdean, is a self-professed fat girl, and she has no shame in it. Just because she's a bit larger than other people, doesn't mean she should be ashamed of herself. However, her mother, a former pageant queen, feels like her "Dumplin'" could always lose a few pounds, and has had her on different diets since she was in third grade, I believe. After her aunt Lucy died, due to a heart attack cause by obesity, Will's weight becomes more of an issue, and she also has other problems to contend with. A hot guy at work is showing real interest in her, and she is having issues with her best friend. To top it all off, she decides to enter the legendary Miss Clover City beauty pageant, along with a few of her 'misfit' friends.
Now, isn't third grade when you're 8-9? Being English I don't really understand the whole American grading system, but I do know that the kids in third grade are still really young. To have one on yo-yo dieting is honestly disgusting, and kinda made me hate her mam, to be honest. I love Willowdean for being so happy in herself. Yes, she knew she was big, and yeah, she could lose a few pounds, but why should she? She's confident, and happy; she has friends, and doesn't need to be stick thin for any of these. Most books you read about 'bigger' girls these days end up with them having a full makeover: weight loss, hair, make-up, the whole works, and I think that is damaging for modern teenagers to read. Don't we have enough problems seeing borderline anorexic models and Photoshop actresses in magazines, adverts, movies, etc.? Not everyone looks like that, and to make that seem like the 'normal', 'proper' way to be, it's no wonder so many teenagers have body and self esteem issues.
The 'misfit' group of characters, aren't really misfits - they're just normal people, who aren't perfect. And how refreshing is that? And they weren't all to be pitied - they were feisty, and strong, and just a tad bitchy. They were normal teenage girls, and not the perfect, all-American teenager we see so much of. I liked them all, and was glad that there was tension between Will and best friend, Ell, so that she could get out of her comfort zone, and make new friends.
The romance, I wasn't too much of a fan of. Bo, for me, wasn't who I'd have picked for Will. There was just a slight edge to him, and I cared more about the friendship sections of the book, than the romance - quite a surprise for me. Mitch was a much better guy, in my opinion, though I understood that the connection just wasn't there for Will to chose him. That being said, I didn't feel like it was a full on love triangle, just that there were two guys who liked Will, but none of the regular angst you see when that occurs.
As I've said, I really disliked Willowdean's mam. However, I felt like that whole story arc came full circle, and was pleased with how their relationship was left at the end of the book. Since finishing Dumplin', I've found out that Julie will be writing a companion novel, due tentatively for 2018, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of Will and her mam. I hope the companion is from Millie's PoV, or even Amanda's.
Oh yeah, and Dolly Parton was a huge part in the novel - who doesn't love a bit of Dolly?!
This is a book that teenage Sophie would've adored, and 20 year old Sophie does just the same. The only real issue I had was that it ended so abruptly - like so many contemporaries do :( - but now I know there will be a companion/sequel, I'm so much happier! Everyone should read this book: young and old, thin and fat, you name it. I wasn't expecting this review to be so long, but I just have a lot of feelings, okay?
TL;DR: Buy this, ASAP!