Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (15th Sept 2015)
Dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom, Willowdean 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 Teen Blue Bonnet 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.
I am very lucky indeed to win a copy of Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’ on Twitter a few weeks back because I’ve always wanted to read Dumplin’ ever since I saw it on Amazon. And that cover is just adorable, I just couldn’t resist bringing it back with me to Uni and it proved to be a great train ride companion!
Dumplin’ follows the story of Willowdean, who is nicknamed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty pageant queen mum, as she shows the world, well, her little town in Texas, that anyone can join the annual beauty pageant. Even if you don’t have the perfect physique. It’s a story of love, self-acceptance, friendship and Dolly Parton.
“There’s some kind of peace that comes with knowing that for every person who is waiting to be found, there’s someone out there searching.”
Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of YA fantasy and dystopian and Dumplin’ was a welcome change because I was definitely craving for a contemporary YA romance. Willowdean is such a sweetheart and I really liked her and how she didn’t really give a fudge what people think of her weight. But then she shows a more vulnerable side to her strong façade when she meets Bo, her cute co-worker who clearly likes her! I loved the friendship between Willowdean and her best friend, Ellen. Best friends since forever, melded together by their love for Dolly Parton. As the plot progressed, more characters are introduced and I did like the band of misfits that Willowdean befriended, especially the sassy and sharp-tongued Hannah.
“All my life I’ve had a body worth commenting on and if living in my skin has taught me anything it’s that if it’s not your body, it’s not yours to comment on.”
The romance in Dumplin’ is cute and I adored Bo. I liked the dynamics of their relationship, where Willowdean learns to accept the fact that Bo does like her for who she truly is, without doubting his feelings for her and she him. I had hoped that Julie Murphy had played the love triangle card in Dumplin’ because I really wanted more feels in the romance department, not that Willowdean and Bo weren’t cute enough, mind you, but I liked the other guy too!
“Perfection is nothing more than a phantom shadow we’re all chasing”
All in all, Dumplin’ was just incredibly enjoyable because it’s funny, full of heart and sassy. If you’re a fan of Dolly Parton, Texas and beauty pageants, have a go at reading Dumplin’ because you won’t be disappointed. A cute love story paired with a strong tale of friendship and self-acceptance, I would definitely recommend Dumplin’!