Review: Dumplin by Julie Murphy

Dumplin - Julie MurphyPublisher: Balzer + Bray (September 15th 2015)
Hardcover: 384 pages
Source: Edelweiss
Add on: Goodreads
Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

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.


You’re a mixed bag of surprises, Dumplin’. Dumplin’ was a fun read with some ups and downs for me. It might be because I haven’t been a teenagers in many years, but man the teen angst…I just hoped I wasn’t that whiny as a teen. That being said, it gives us a really good push for positive body image and lovely life lessons among the beauty pageant drama, Dolly Parton love, and southern hospitality.

I’m Dumplin’. And Will and Willowdean. I’m fat. I’m happy. I’m insecure. I’m bold.

Will is interesting. She was a juxtaposition of bold and insecure. I found her to be a bit whiny and very teenage angst at time, but I love that she does stand up for herself. Being fat in southern Texas with a ex-beauty queen mom who thinks you could lose a few pounds can definitely be a huge stressor so I can see why she has her ups and down. I like the character development as Will makes new friends and works towards that self-confidence with her body.

Beautiful, he says. Fat, I think. But can’t I be both at the same time?

There were a few things I didn’t really work for me. For one, I was a little sad that the beauty pageant didn’t actually play a bigger part. Another, there’s this odd/awkward romance that I wasn’t quite feeling. Will’s been crushing on Bo, her co-worker, and they were cute but there’s a lot of drama and top that off with another boy crushing on Will and just so much mixed feelings, it got a bit exasperating for me.

Friendships play a huge role in Dumplin’. Will has a fall-out with her best friend. That made me sad. There’s definitely some life lesson stuff there. She also makes new friends with the outcast/odd duck girls who all decide to join the beauty pageant, too! I liked them and loving seeing their self-esteem grow along with their friendship.

Murphy’s writing is lovely and easy to read. The story for the most part flowed pretty well. The story really pushes for a more positive body image is great.

There’s something about swimsuits that make you think you’ve got to earn the right to wear them. And that’s wrong. Really, the criteria is simple. Do you have a body? Put a swimsuit on it.

Overall, Will’s adventures was a fun and enjoyable read. Despite the few things that annoyed me, I liked all the advocacy for breaking stereotypes and promoting a positive self-image.

“I think the good stuff is always supposed to be a little bit scary,” he says.

{Thanks to Balzer & Bray & Edelweiss for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.


Find Julie Murphy:

Website | Goodreads | Twitter

Purchase the book:
Book Depository | Barnes & Nobles | Chapters Indigo |


Author: Cyn

noun. a bum OT, procrastinator. reader. eater. sleeper. music listen-er. movie go-er. Loves food too much.

0 Replies to “Review: Dumplin by Julie Murphy”

  1. Cait @ Paper Fury says: Reply

    I really did like this one but Willl….ahhh, I didn’t exactly click with her. She seemed a bit contradictory, like one minute she was all being feministic and crushing haters and trying to be confident in her own skin — but then she dumped her boyfriend because she was convinced he couldn’t love her because she was fat? HMM. BUT THEN!! She is like 16. XD And who has perfectly logical thinking at that age?!?!? I really liked the pageant parts and all the epically quotable lines. 😀

    1. Oh yes, totally can see where you”re coming from about Will! She was very back and forth! The romance was so weird. But yeah, I chalk the contradictory nature to being a teenager, haha.
      Loved the quotable lines! I wish there was more pageant stuff actually!

  2. This sounds cute despite the drama. I do like that friendship was central to the story.

    1. It definitely had it’s positive moments! The friendship really made the book 🙂

  3. I just hoped I wasn’t that whiny as a teen So with you there, I hope I wasn’t either, haha, even though mine was only a few years ago. I didn’t find her that whiny when I was reading it, but then the more I thought about it, especially the romance, the more I found issues with it, I mean, I still loved it, but yeah, the angst, and ohhhhhhhhhhhh I wanted to punch her mother. So bad. So, so bad. I know she wants her daughter to be happy and healthy, but at the same time, you can be healthy and completely unhappy, and there are definitely other ways to go about it than the way she did. It did annoy me too, now, that she was so confident and ‘fuck you if you don’t like me’ attitude in the beginning and as soon as a guy started taking notice in her, she became insecure. Though, it is realistic, but still.

    1. It’s been a while for me, haha but sometimes when I’m on the bus and all the teenagers are on too, I just cringe when I listen to them talk, lol
      The romance was so strange! And yeah, the mom frustrated me, too!
      Agree, realistic, but still.

  4. I’m glad you still liked it! Teenagers are whiny, aren’t they? I want to run away when I see them in the aisles at work. I super agree with you about the romance! It’s kind of awkward, and while I’m glad it ends happily and all that, it left me feeling odd. Great review, Cyn!!

  5. I haven’t been a teenager in a hundred years, but I still loved this book. I think it head a great message. I only down graded it from five stars because the author could have taken advantage of a couple of opportunities to mention birth control. Thanks for the review. 🙂

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