BOOK REVIEW: Dumplin’ – by Julie Murphy

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Title: Dumplin’
Author: Julie Murphy
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
First published: December 22nd 2015
Finished reading: May 15th 2016
Pages: 375
Rating 2qqq

“I hate seeing fat girls on TV or in movies, because the only way the world seems to be okay with putting a fat person on camera is if they’re miserable with themselves or if they’re the jolly best friend. Well, I’m neither of those things.”

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This novel by Julie Murphy has been recommended numerous times to me in the past and I was excited to finally read it. But while I really wanted to like this story, Dumplin’ has turned out to be yet another ‘unpopular opinion’ book. And it’s not like I shouldn’t be able to connect with the main character, because basically I have been struggling with my weight myself during most of my life (especially during high school)… But I don’t think this story actually portrays the image body positivity it seems to be wanting to promote. First of all, the main character Willowdean is actually quite a bitch. It is one thing to accept your body and try to be immune what others might say to you, but that doesn’t mean she has to treat the people close to her the way she does. Also, the fact that her own mother consistantly calls her Dumplin was quite annoying; how disrespectful can you be towards your own kid?! Dumplin’ was also packed with stereotypes, I wasn’t sure what to think of the whole cliche Miss Clover City beauty pageant in the first place and like I said before: there was a lot of unnecessarily bullying and negative comments involved that didn’t exactly show that teenagers should just accept their bodies. To make things even worse: there was even an completely unnecessary love triangle included in this story. The horror! Having two boys pining over Willowdean doesn’t make her seem more popular or shows she is ‘ready’ to accept who she is. And I’m not even talking about they way she treats them. So as you might have guessed, even though Dumplin’ was quite a fast read and had an interesting premise, I can’t exactly say I enjoyed it. This seems to be one of those books you either love or hate though, so don’t give up on it if you think you might enjoy it.

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Willowdean Dickson has always accepted her body as it is, even though not even her own mother and former beauty queen mom might not feel the same. Dumplin had inspiration closeby: her own aunt always tried to show her that she shouldn’t let other people stop her from doing the things she wants just because of her weight. Together with her best friend Ellen things have always seemed fine, but things change when Will takes a job at the local fast-food joint Harpy’s. One of her new collegues is the attractive Bo, and to Will’s surprise he seems to be interested in her as well. She doesn’t know what to make of his intentions and starts doubting herself… And to make things worse: she and Ellen seem to be slowly growing apart. What happens next might change Will’s life forever: she decides to enter the same Miss Clover City beauty pageant her own mother won in the past to show that she deserves to participate as much as those other girls. But is it really worth it?

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I really wanted to enjoy Dumplin’, but now I’ve read it I don’t think it is actually worth the hype. The main character isn’t exactly likeable and I don’t like the way Willowdean treated the others OR the way the ‘unlikely’ contestants were treated. Add the many stereotypes, unnecessary bullying, negative comments and annoying love triangle to the mix and there just wasn’t any other conclusion possible than that I wasn’t convinced by this story. I know many people love this book, but unfortunately I wasn’t one of them.

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9 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: Dumplin’ – by Julie Murphy

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    • I think just about everyone I know actually liked this book though, so you will probably end up really enjoying it. I guess I tend to have unpopular opinions when it comes to hyped books in the first place. 😉 I personally didn’t think this book was particularly ‘body positive’, but most other readers seem to interpret the story in a different way…

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