[Book Review #48] Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

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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.

Book Specifications:

Author: Julie Murphy

Format: Hardbound

Part of a Series: No. Standalone.

Release Date: September 15, 2015

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

No. of Pages: 384 pages

Price: 684.00Php

Genre: Romance, Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Book Review:

The Cover: Have I ever told you how much I adore black spines and covers? Well, now I did. And with that said, I am utterly in awe with Dumplin’s magnificent cover. It’s regal, yet, the amount of effort put into it was very minimal. The font was simple, and the presence of a small-sized fat girl on the middle is legendary. The tagline is superb as well! Just by looking at the cover, the reader would know that the book is about a fat girl with great confidence. ‘Nuff said. (5 out of 5 stars)

The Story: Everything about this book is amazing. I expected many things from this book and I’m glad to have been extremely satisfied.

The characters, specifically Willowdean Dickson, felt real and relatable, and their character developments were outstanding. I have to say, I have never been able to connect and relate to a character as I did with Willowdean. She has this notion that with her physical appearance (with her weight, specifically), no one would be able to express love for someone like her, until she meets Bo Larson. *cue fangirl noises* She pushes people like Bo, and Ellen, her bestfriend, because of fear that no one except her, would be able to understand what she’s going through. This is a phase that I relate to the most because it’s actually realistic, and the probability of a great number of readers loving this book for the same reason amuses me.

The idea of telling the story of a confident, self proclaimed fat-girl was not only new to me. It was also an idea that sparked and made fireworks out of my interest. Being a self-proclaimed fat-boy myself, just like Willowdean, I too am flawed. I am fat and I refuse to think negatively about myself. I could obviously learn a thing or two from Willowdean. She’s actually my concrete idea as to what a teenager should be in our modern time. Brave, confident, just a tad bit proud and granted with a good serving of substance. Because of Dumplin’, I’m now looking forward to reading about protagonists who are, in some ways, flawed, but dauntless and confident.

Julie made a splendid attempt in trying to make her MC a humorous and bubbly one. As I started reading this book, I was actually afraid that Willowdean might not be as authentic as I perceived her to be. I thought she was going to be one of those characters who were troubled because of past experiences which might result to an overrated MC status. After reading it, I am glad to have been proven wrong. Willowdean wasn’t just your average protagonist. She have that oomph factor. One that I have been trying to find in charcters from previous books I’ve read but to no avail.

This book, as if it isn’t that obvious, is all about empowerment. And I loved every single page of it! I actually am vouching for this to be a trend. Way back January of 2015. The suicide-mental illness trend was made popular with the release of books like All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, My Heart and Other Blackholes by Jasmine Warga, etc. And now, this. Being a flawed individual myself, I love reading books like these, wherein the MCs are widely imperfect, and yet, there’s something about them that makes you want to root for them.

I am literally lost for words. I loved this book so, so much. (5 out of 5 stars)

The Ending: I have to admit, I was kinda expecting for a completely different way on how this book will end, but I was wrong. But it’s okay. It just goes to show that this book actually is a little unpredictable in it’s own way. I actually don’t know how to ramble on about the ending without spoiling anyone, so I guess I’ll just leave it with “It was very good. Not how I imagined it would end, but it was still very good.” (4 out of 5 stars)

The Verdict: When I listed this book as #2 on my most anticipated reads for the 2nd half of 2015, I knew that I made a good choice. And upon reading it, I was proven correct. The story is unique, and yet, it feels utterly relatable and nostalgic. I loved every single page of it and Julie’s concept of telling the story of a confident, bright, fat-girl is genius. I hope that with the success of Dumplin’, authors would be encouraged to write about flawed, but brave and confident characters. (4.67 out of 5 stars)

And to show you just how much I loved this book, I’m attaching my fabulous #DumplinPose. Photo courtesy of my sweet friend Jayvee, the Misfit Writer.IMG_5677

And, no, please don’t mind the man behind me, who actually looks weirded out by my Dumplin Pose. He may be a weirdo himself. Haha!

Quotable Quotes:

“The word fat makes people uncomfortable. But when you see me, the first thing you notice is my body. And my body is fat. It’s like how I notice some girls have big boobs or shiny hair or knobby knees. Those things are okay to say. But the word fat, the one that best describes me, makes lips frown and cheeks lose their color.” – Willowdean

“When you’ve known someone for so long, you don’t see the same things in them that everyone else does.” – Willowdean

“… You don’t always have to win a pageant to wear a crown.” – Donna

“Loyalty is being there for someone. It’s selfless. It’s about standing by someone’s side even when you don’t want to. Because you love them.” – Willowdean

“This dress makes me feel like someone I didn’t know I could be. I’ve never owned anything like it. But if when you see this–when you see me–you think it’s a pity, that it’s a shame I didn’t lose a few, then screw you, Mom. Try harder.” – Willowdean

“Sometimes, good things happen to you at the absolute worst time.” – Bo Larson

“I think maybe it’s the things we don’t want to talk about that are the things people most want to hear.” – Willowdean

Still unconvinced? Well then. Let Epic Reads give it a shot:

About The Author:

Julie lives in North Texas with her husband who loves her, her dog who adores her, and her cat who tolerates her. When she’s not writing or trying to catch stray cats, she works at an academic library. Side Effects May Vary is Julie’s debut novel.

Twitter || Goodreads || Website


17 thoughts on “[Book Review #48] Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

  1. Fabulous review! Honestly, I’m so excited about this book because I do feel like Willowdean will be a very relatable character for me. I’m so glad to hear she turns out to be very humorous too! Oh and I wish more books were about empowerment. Really can’t wait to start this one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for dropping by, you fabulous person! 🙂 Willowdean IS my spirit animal, I have to say. I did not expect for myself to relate so much to a fictional character until she came along. Her personal issues with the world and herself reflects my own, and oh my god. I’m stoked for everyone to read this gem. ♥


  2. Oh my god, your review (and the last picture!) made me smile so much! I have this on my radar for a couple of weeks now – not that long, I know – but your review made me REALLY want to read it! I feel like I could relate to Willowdean one way or another and she could definitely teach me a few things … I’ll be sure to get this as soon as possible! Great review, JM! 😀


    1. Thank you for dropping by, Yvonne! And I’m glad my review (and photo of my dumplin pose) urged you to finally read this! As seen on my review, I loved this one. Seriously! Willowdean is one of the most authentic characters I have ever read about and I’m stoked for everyone to get to know her more, and that includes you! Be sure to share your thoughts with me once you’ve read it, okay? 🙂


  3. “The word fat makes people uncomfortable. But when you see me, the first thing you notice is my body. And my body is fat. It’s like how I notice some girls have big boobs or shiny hair or knobby knees. Those things are okay to say. But the word fat, the one that best describes me, makes lips frown and cheeks lose their color.” – Willowdean

    This quotable quote made me feel an ache, I’m glad you shared it.
    Because of this, I’m moving this book to the top of my to be read list. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Sheryl! That quote just broke me down and built me back up at the same time!! That’s my absolute favorite quote from the whole book. I’m glad me and my review were enough to convince you to give Dumplin’ a shot! Thanks for stopping by, Sheryl! 🙂


  4. I love this review! And I love that super adorable picture of you ❤

    Future Perfect by Jen Larsen is another body positive book that I've come across recently in a few blog posts. I haven't heard too much about it in the community but maybe you'll enjoy that one too?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Jenna! Thank you and I’m so glad you stopped by! 🙂

      You know me well, my friend! I’m actually reading Future Perfect right now, and it’s immensely different with Dumplin’ but I’m kinda having mixed feelings about it at the moment! I like it, though! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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