Book Review: Dumplin by Julie Murphy

My ARC has a striking black and red glossy cover!

What’s it about?

Dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom, Willowdean 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 Teen Blue Bonnet 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.

My thoughts

In a considered effort to read books that I’ve had on my shelf for a considerable amount of time, I picked up this ARC that I’d had from 2015!!! My bad!

I read this book in less than a weekend which I think is testament to my enjoyment level even though It’s full of stereotypes, clichés and fat jokes.  Although these mostly are from the main character..kind of let me say it first before someone else does!

**Having said I enjoyed it for what it is, I can’t decide if this is book is a good representation of body positivity for young women** I just don’t have enough literary knowledge of this area to determine that.  As a piece of entertainment, it worked for me.

Even though I’m undecided, I would have liked to have read this as a chubby teenager as I can only remember reading Judy Blume’s Superfudge.  Body image positivity wasn’t really a thing in the mid-80s.  This book is full of concerns that I’m sure many a plus size girl, myself included, probably has thought about at least once, it is all very familiar.  But as I say I am conflicted if this book really does promote body positivity or whether it just encourages people to change to fit in.  I did like that Willowdean is an imperfect main character as none of us are flawless. She is self-critical, full of self-doubt, doesn’t always treat those around her as well as she could 100% of the time but she mostly has a good heart and a wicked f**k it attitude.

There’s a bit of a love triangle thing going on which I didn’t feel was necessary or really brought anything extra to the story.  I was actually reading this thinking, are people going to read and believe this or think she’s punching above her weight and would never get one guy let alone two – I know this is down to my own insecurities and even as a 40+ singleton I still have these same doubts…”don’t touch the back fat!”.  The pageant itself doesn’t exactly promote healthy attitudes as all that is so judgemental in its entirety.

I get that the importance of the book is not who won the pageant but why don’t we find out who wins: I really wanted to know!  95% of the book revolves around the darn thing but we don’t get a winner – cop out! Maybe the movie will give me a winner.

As a bit of escapism for the weekend, it was a fun read.  As a book that everyone should read as a good example of body positivity, I don’t know!

The movie adaptation of Dumplin is due to be released this year and the book’s sequel, Puddin, was published in May.

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Author links: Twitter | Website

Small print for info
Source: ARC – many thanks!
No of pages: 384
Publisher: Harper Collins

3 Comments

  1. 13th July 2018 / 8:29 am

    Interesting read …

    I would imagine that most cultures are similar. Maybe it’s because of the entertainment factor and nothing deeper.

    Great review (as always 🙂 )

  2. Lindsay | Bookboodle
    Author
    14th July 2018 / 5:03 pm

    Thank you! I enjoyed it for what it was…leaving the deep and meaningful to someone else with a broader knowledge of this genre 🙂

  3. 17th July 2018 / 4:09 am

    Wonderful review! I definitely get your points here; part of the reason this book didn’t work for me was how body positivity was dealt with. I guess I kind of took it personal, and couldn’t get past the negative feelings to see the ‘fun’ part.

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