Review: Dumplin'

Julie Murphy - Dumplin'
Published: September 15, 2015 by Balzer + Bray
Pages: 384
Genres: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
Find on: Amazon, Goodreads, Book Depository
Rating: 2.5/5

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.

Not at all what I expected.

Willowdean Dickson - occasionally, Will - knows she's fat and has no problem reminding you. As a Dolly Parton enthusiast and an employee at a fast-food restaurant, Harpy's, her life is exceptionally meager. One day, her co-worker, Bo, is equally bored with life and decides to lust after her. Their relationship is somewhat instalove-y. They makeout behind dumpsters and in parking lots. Though Willowdean has intense feelings for Bo, he refuses to acknowledge her in front of his family and acts like a horny turtle whenever they're alone. Then, she re-encounters Mitch, who she previously shared a class with in sixth grade and is a total Southern gentleman. He's x10 more likeable than Bo, but whenever his childhood friend made an unnecessary cameo, he mucks everything up for them.

Honestly, I didn't like either Bo or Mitch. But if I had to choose, it'd be Mitch. He tried with Willowdean and she was always finding faults in him. Bo only ever brought her a few corny novelty items but Mitch had such a warm, angelic heart. Like, how...? Ugh.

Ironically, though, her mother is a former beauty pageant darling, curvaceous and all, who throws the periodic backhanded compliment. Though, Will doesn't take too much of it to heart, so when the pageant her mother oh-so-adores comes around, Willowdean decides to enter but her mother is absolutely aghast. The pageant brings out the nasty in people. Will and her best friend, Ellen, stop being friends after Willowdean "suggests" she drop out to let her potentially win. There are tears. There are failed magic tricks. There are forged signatures.

Y'all have no idea how much I'd been looking forward to this. When I won an ARC in a giveaway, I nearly cried. I expected a bigger, brighter, grander storyline and I wasn't given that. I wasn't reaching for the stars, trust me. I'm not saying this book had to be perfect. I just hoped to be enthralled and wasn't. It dragged on. The love-triangle was petty and annoying. Nothing substantial actually happened. She went to school, went to work, and struggled to choose the right boy. Unfortunately, not my fave.


  1. It's refreshing to read a review that talks about the book's negatives, I still have yet to read this one but I'm glad I got a chance to read a review from someone that didn't completely love it. I've read the author's other book and didn't like the main character in that one so I'm iffy on Willowdean too.

    1. I read Julie's first book, too, but I ended up DNFing it. I've been tempted to add her upcoming book, Ramona Drowning, to my TBR, though. I'd seen such praise for Dumplin' but I just couldn't get the appeal. Willowdean isn't an easy like but I'd love to see your review!


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