Book Talk: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Book Talk: Dumplin’ by Julie MurphyDumplin' by Julie Murphy
on September 15, 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Also by this author: Side Effects May Vary, Ramona Blue
Format: ARC
Source: For Review

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!




Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”



Willowdean has always been the fat girl and she’s always been pretty okay with that despite the normal teenage insecurities. It’s never been a THING for her. Until she gets a job and crushes on one of her hot co-workers who totally ends up liking her back. And then insecurities and what people think get the best of Willowdean and makes her second guess herself and if Bo could really like her. So she decides to remind herself of how confident she is and enters a beauty pageant (that her mother is the coordinator of) — an act that sparks a little bit of a revolution when a couple of other girls, who are inspired by Willowdean’s bravery, to join with her despite them not looking like the usual beauty pageant contestant.



This is definitely one of my most favorite books of 2015 and I want everyone to meet Willowdean! She’s definitely one of those characters you want to wish into existence so that you could be friends with her. There are a whole lot of adjectives I could use to describe her but really you just need to meet her. And the best thing about this book? As much as she is this dazzling star of this novel, she has so many other supporting characters in this book that shine equally as much in different ways. It’s just packed with amazing characters — especially females. I loved the girls who do the beauty pageant with Willowdean and I love how they all learn from each other and find friends they didn’t know they needed in their life. One of my FAVORITE scenes involves these ladies and some Dolly Parton awesomeness.

Sometimes it feels as if it’s hard to find body diversity within YA. It’s rare when I come across a ~fat~ main character and even more rare when that book isn’t solely about that person’s struggle with their weight or is trying to lose weight. Those are super important stories. Stories that need to be heard. But it’s really hard to find a fat main character who is fairly confident about being fat/isn’t really looking to change themselves or at least is no more insecure about being fat than about other things we as ladies get insecure about — which is also important and is a voice that needs to be heard. And the one thing about Willowdean in Dumplin’ is that she’s pretty okay in her skin and her being fat isn’t the biggest deal to her. She’s confident yet, like most girls, still has her insecurities and self consciousness that comes with being a teenager. She doesn’t really have a problem being the fat girl (aside from the crap from other people about it). Being fat is just a part of who she is — just a piece of her. Until she gets a boyfriend. A guy she thinks people will perceive is too good for her based on looks alone. And then nagging insecurities come full force and mess with her head threatening to break that confidence.

It is so, so relatable whether or your ~thing~ is your weight or a stutter or a flat chest (hello, me…I’m almost 30 weren’t my boobs supposed to show up by now lols) or a big nose or whatever. We see this vulnerability within Willowdean that shows just how hard it is to be confident of the things you love about yourself when the world makes it so easy to let those self-conscious feelings or insecurities attach themselves to you like a leech that just sucks your confidence blood supply dry and possibly make you feel like you need to CHANGE (because people say you should) or loathe yourself. And I loved how the beauty pageant was her way of proving to herself and others that you don’t have to be a certain way to deserve to be on the stage of a beauty pageant, to deserve love, to deserve to feel beautiful, etc. etc.

God it was just such a great coming of age story that seamlessly delved into so many things in addition to the body positivity and self-acceptance. Willowdean is dealing with the first real loss of her life — her aunt who meant a lot to her and was someone she was closest to. I loved how Julie Murphy portrays a lot of common teen experiences — crushing on someone, falling in love, heartbreaks, shifting best friend dynamics, feeling like your mom just doesn’t GET you etc. It’s just such a delightful and REAL story with strong messages that never feel like they are hitting you over the head. Just straight up REAL TALK through the plot and dialogue that is thought-provoking and I still have a few passages that have stuck with me.



factors(+ )characters, writing, storyline, lols, overall message
(– ) Nothing really that I can think of.

a5contemporary YA/realistic fiction fans, readers looking for body diversity & body positivity, readers who want a book that brings the lols and the sentimental feels, readers looking for strong female friendships

a8Dumplin’ was just an altogether delightful read that made me laugh out loud at times and put my hand to my heart and sigh. I enjoyed the ~message~ about loving your body and recognizing how worthy you are of love and feeling beautiful and other good things — no matter what your body looks like. I loved Willowdean and think she’s truly something special!


Dumplin' Julie Murphy

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
I’m really looking for more books with diversity when it comes to body type! Any suggestions?



The Perpetual Page-Turner

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. I have heard so much amazing things about this book, and yeah, I honestly would love to read it! It’s a pretty special book, from what I’ve heard. I love how the main character of this book is not the typical female type. EEK, can’t wait to read it! Amazing review 🙂

  2. I love how awesome this book sounds. And hilarious! I am always down for laughing while reading. I also really want to meet the boy in the book, b/c a teen boy who overlooks a girl not having the ‘traditional’ hot bod, is one I wanna read about! =)

  3. This book sounds so so good <3 I have heard nothing but rave reviews! I love stories that have such a positive and meaningful message! They are so important! I find this especially true for YA because teens are struggling to figure out who they are and to love themselves for it–and amidst the media-storm that can feel near impossible! I'm really looking forward to picking this one up!

    • I think she did a really good job balancing that important and meaningful message without being too heavyhanded with it…which I loved! Hope you love it too!! And YAS esp as a young person when you are trying to figure out who you are….it’s hard to wade through the comments about your body and other people’s bodies that makes you feel even more self conscious. Esp in this social media age…I can’t imagine having growing up the way kids and teens are. I’m happy I didn’t have to. It breaks my heart when I see teens posting YT videos and having to see awful awful comments about what they look like or how they talk etc.

  4. Great review! Can’t wait to get a copy. I guess I judged the book by its cover first, because as soon as I saw it, I was intrigued:-)

  5. Hey Jamie!
    You’ve sold me on this one. I’ve seen some mixed reviews, but I guess it depends on what you want to get out of a novel? I think it’s also maybe harder for people to relate to overweight people who haven’t had that challenge. But like you said, it’s about any imperfection that you’re self-conscious about, and learning to love it! (It’s only taken me 37 years to get there!)
    Crap. Another for the TBR pile!!! 😉

    • Yay! I will be so excited to hear what you think! Hope you fall on the liking it side haha

      Hmm idk…I have never been overweight at all (like I used to get made fun of for being too skinny in middle and early high school) but I totally could relate. The way Julie writes Willowdean is one of those things where even though I haven’t totally experienced being overweight I felt like I could relate to her with the things I WAS insecure about at that age. And omg yes…I feel like finally at 30 I’m like WHO CARES. esp bc now I’m starting to see how as I get older my body doesn’t work the way it used to so I’m like OH MY GOD BODY I LOVE YOU TO PIECES FOR WHAT YOU DO. haha

  6. I just stayed up way past my bedtime last night to finish reading this one! Loved it a lot. Like you, I was really impressed with the strong cast of characters. I enjoy contemporary YA romance-meets-identity stories, but I don’t feel like many exist that are done well–I feel like they usually cheap out on the world building/cast of characters because “it’s contemporary, you know what’s there, reader, fill it in for yourself!” This is definitely a great comp to Anna and the French Kiss series, in my opinion, if you love that kind of story but wanted a different sort of main character, someone you could relate to more.

  7. I have heard such amazing things about this book, and put it on my TBR/To-Buy list awhile ago. Your review just confirms that I made the right decision. Can’t wait to read it!!

  8. I’m reading it now and loving it. I’m not a huge YA reader — but certain YA books transcend that category and this is one of those. I recently started a YA book group at our store and this will for sure be a selection. It’s a YA group for adults (most of whom seem to be moms of high school students, although we have one retired man — go figure!) and I would love a few suggestions of YA books you think are best for a 40+ audience. Our first two choices were The Impossible Knife of Memory (Laurie Halse Anderson) and Belzhar (Meg Wolitzer) — both big hits with the group. Thanks!

  9. I had only seen the cover of this book,but reading your synopsis made me really want to read it! Adding this to the top of my to-read list!

  10. I’m really looking forward to reading Dumplin’ at some point this year! It sounds absolutely delightful, and I’d like to meet Willowdean for myself after seeing the lovely things people have said about her. I’m glad you were smitten with this story, and I hope I am too!

  11. I haven’t read this yet but I am so excited to! I spotted this weeks and weeks ago and thought it would be something that I’d really want to read and now that it’s getting such rave reviews – including your own stamp of approval – I’m just even more excited to get my hands on a copy now.

    Mel ♥