ARC Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

August 26, 2015 Review 41 ★★★½

ARC Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Publisher: Penguin Australia
Source: Publisher
Pages: 384
Release Date: August 26th, 2015
Genres: Coming of Age, Contemporary, Friendship, Love & Romance, Young Adult
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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.

I received this book for free from the source listed above in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

becDUMPLIN’ is a book that’s been receiving a tonne of hype. Seriously, who doesn’t love this book?! Me. I didn’t love it. I liked it and can see why so many people rave about it, but I wasn’t blown away.

Why didn’t I have the same reading experience as most other people? For one thing contemporary isn’t my go to genre, I only read it occasionally for something different in between all my fantasy/sci fi. The other reason is that I don’t think I formed a very strong emotional connection to Willowdean. She’s a great character, very full of life and with a confidence I aspire to one day obtain, but I just never fully connected. It didn’t help that some things she did/said to her friends in the first half of the novel annoyed me. They were such selfish, horrible things, which she did learn from I do admit, but it didn’t help me like her more.

“All my life I’ve had a body worth commenting on and if living in my skin has taught me anything it’s that if it’s not your body, it’s not yours to comment on”

My favourite part DUMPLIN’ overall was the themes and messages it explored. Body image is a big issue all around the world and is guaranteed to affect everyone at some stage or another. Willowdean isn’t a small girl, but she is fairly comfortable in her body… until she isn’t. I loved how DUMPLIN’ showed everyone has insecurities and that’s okay. Your body doesn’t define you and you shouldn’t let your own self doubts or arsehole bullies to stop you achieving your personal goals and dreams. Don’t let them stop you from being the person you want to be. As a highly anxious person who worries about a lot of things (which sometimes includes body image but not always, because I’m too lazy to do anything about it) it was really inspiring and reassuring. 

Another aspect I enjoyed was the fact that the romance wasn’t in your face all the time. It had it’s role, and Willowdean dates people and thinks about relationships as any normal teenager does, but it didn’t completely override the point of the story. As much as I would have love to have seen more scenes with Bo, the amount in this book was just right.

“News flash, Mom: a man will not cure my troubles”

While I didn’t love DUMPLIN’ as much as almost everyone else seems too, I really do appreciate this book and the message it delivers. I’d recommend this for any YA fan looking for some words of empowerment and reassurance. 

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Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Romance
Overall: 3.3

41 Responses to “ARC Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy”

    • Bec

      She is a bit of a love or hate character honestly. She was alright but there were just some moments she really angered me.

      Haha I feel that way about so many popular books!

  1. Kristin @ Simply Bookish Things

    I’ve been hesitating on reading this for quite while mostly because it doesn’t seem like the type of book I’d be interested in even though I LOVE contemporary, yeah I don’t know I might give this one a skip?..

    • Bec

      I guess it’s up to do. It is an nice contemporary and a lot of other people love it but it really depend on your tastes. I’d suggest finding some people who rate books similarly to you and seeing what they think if you’re undecided.

  2. Mallory @ The Leaning Tower of Tomes

    I’m interested in reading Dumplin’ because of the themes and messages in it. Body image is definitely something everything struggles with at some time or another, and it’s interesting seeing how different people react to and portray it differently. I’ve heard some reviewers say they didn’t like the romance much, but from what you’ve said I’m now more willing to see where it goes. Great review, Bec! (And I’m totally the same as you: fantasy and sci-fi all the way, with some contemporary to break things up when stories get waaaaay too dark.)
    Mallory @ The Leaning Tower of Tomes recently posted…Review — Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

    • Bec

      I liked the romance, but it wasn’t my favourite part of the book. And fortunately the romance isn’t too big of a part. Thanks :)

  3. Wattle

    Thanks for your honest review Bec :) I’m not sure about this one. I was thinking I’d like to read it, because I do love a good contemporary; and then it got a movie deal, and I got suspicious about it lol

    It’s kind of sad, that movies make alarm bells go off in my head *sigh*
    Wattle recently posted…From the Vault Movie Review: Stardust

    • Bec

      Is there a particular reason movie deals make you suspicious?

      You never know you might like it! And honestly it could make a great movie if done right. It’d be really entertaining

      • Wattle

        I think I will end up reading the book, eventually; I’m a bit weird about movie adaptations. I think it’s an over-saturation thing, particularly if the book is brand new and there’s already a movie involved. It makes me wonder if it was written for that reason, as opposed to a film being a few years down the track, you know? I don’t think it’s the case in this instance though.

        When I first read the blurb, I thought ‘it sounds like a movie’. I guess Disney agreed.
        Wattle recently posted…From the Vault Movie Review: Stardust

        • Bec

          Oh yeah I know what you mean. I tend to get like that with contemporaries, but if it’s an adaptation of a fantasy book I’ll be excited XD (not that it happens often)

    • Bec

      There are some very important reads out there that are quite depressing. Fortunately Dumplin’ has a relatively light tone and it’s just plot elements that annoyed me at times. Thought provoking reads are some of my favourites.

  4. Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

    This book really IS everywhere, but like you, since contemporaries aren’t my genre, I’m not sure if it’s a ‘me book’ I want to read it though because I love the idea of positive body image messages but I’ll have to wait to be in the mood for a contemporary. I’m glad that you still enjoyed some aspects despite not being awed like everyone else seems to be. Nice, balanced review^^ ♥
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…Review: In the Hand of the Goddess

    • Bec

      There’s so much hype! I was hesitant but I’m glad I read it in the end. I think if I had waited a bit longer to read it I may have enjoyed it more but it was a review copy so I had to slot it in.

      Thanks :)

  5. Vane J.

    I’m not a big fan of contemporary either, and god, yes! This book is loved by everyone. I’m kind of afraid of reading it because of the hype, actually. Anyway, great review. Good thing it explored in a good way the concept of body image. :)

    P.S.: I love the new design of the blog!
    Vane J. recently posted…The Secret Life of a Book Blogger

    • Bec

      The hype is so daunting! But there is some ground to all the excitement surrounding it.

      Isn’t the design gorgeous! You have Alise to thank for it all.

  6. Lisa @ Lost in Literature

    I, on the other hand, am a huge fan of contemporary, and I’m really looking forward to reading this one. But I can completely understand where you’re coming from, as I often feel that way while reading a fantasy books. Others absolutely adore it, and for me, it just didn’t click. Sorry this one didn’t wow you like so many others, but I’m happy to see you still enjoyed it regardless. Great review! :)
    Lisa @ Lost in Literature recently posted…Let’s Chat: The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

  7. Evelyn

    I saw this title ‘Dumplin’ and immediately thought of the food. Whoopsies. Turns out this is just a contemporary! Which is also not my kind of genre… I’m partly hesitant to try this but I’m also curious! I love books that deliver messages to their readers! And from your review, this does seem like an inspiring story. If the Romance is not the focus then I think it should work out well enough! Great post, Bec <3

    • Bec

      You know I’ve never actually tried the food. I never realised this until now haaha

      There were some great messages in their and I’m glad I read it overall. Thanks!

  8. Kirsty-Marie Jones

    Awh, shame you didn’t love love it, I really enjoyed it, mainly for the reasons you did, especially for what it represented, and exactly body image (and body shaming) is something that’s always going to be there, but loved that it was more to do with being yourself, and about being comfortable in your own skin no matter what anybody else thinks of you. I totally wanted more Bo scenes though, but yeah, the romance wasn’t in your face, and it wasn’t the focus, even though it was the thing that sets off her insecurities, and it’s just so realistic. And uhm, I love Dolly Parton, so, yup, I loved it.
    Kirsty-Marie Jones recently posted…I HAVE NO MORE FEELINGS

    • Bec

      There were so many realistic components! The only reason I didn’t love it more was because of the other little plot and character issues I had.

  9. Charnell @ Reviews from a Bookworm

    Nice review. I have seen such hype for this book and it has made me very curious to read it, but also a little nervous because I was worried it wouldn’t live up to the hype. I love the themes it seems to cover and the message it is trying to send. I hope I enjoy it, but I might lower my expectations a little bit.
    Charnell @ Reviews from a Bookworm recently posted…The Throne of Glass Series: Recap

    • Bec

      Thanks! Hype is always scary! It can set high expectations and lead to disappointment. Hopefully you love it as much as most other people seem to!

  10. Stephanie@ThesePaperHearts

    Contemporary isn’t my go-to genre either. I rarely venture into that genre now, except for Kasie West of course :) I do really like the idea of this book though and the message it conveys. I find it hard too when a character is mean/unlikable in the beginning of the book. Even though they might change later, it’s hard to cast aside that dislike that’s been building up since the beginning :/
    Stephanie@ThesePaperHearts recently posted…Reawakened and the Adventure with a Mummy

    • Bec

      I still haven’t read any Kasie West! What am I doing with my life?!

      Sometimes it can be characters that make or break a book. I’m glad this had a good message to keep me invested.

  11. Faye la Patata

    First of all, goodness, ladies! This new layout is absolutely divine! I love everything about it <3

    Second, I understand why you didn't love this as much, Bec! Contemporary isn't my favorite genre either, and it takes a very extraordinary book before I could truly connect with a contemporary character. I'll still try this out though! I just love that it's mostly about one's body image and how it shouldn't define our life and values. Great review!
    Faye la Patata recently posted…Review: Shadows by Paula Weston

    • Bec

      Alise is the mastermind behind all this! She did such a great job.

      I really need to be in the mood for a contemporary to truly love it. Maybe I’ll reread this one day and come out of it loving it more.

      Thanks :)

  12. Joy @ Thoughts By J

    I adored this book so much, but I can understand why some parts annoyed you. Willowdean does grate on your nerves a little, but I also really enjoyed her character for being so strong in a non-physical way. Contemporary is definitely not my go to genre either, but this book was so worth the read, and it’s because of the important messages and themes it told. Thanks for the honest review Bec!
    Joy @ Thoughts By J recently posted…Book Review: Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) by Sarah J. Maas

    • Bec

      It could very easily cross over into the adult world if the characters were aged up and if there was a bit more sex thrown in :P The cover doesn’t scream YA either which is nice haha.

    • Bec

      I think if I’d read it before hearing all the hype I may have enjoyed it a bit more because less expectations. The realistic aspects were one of the things I appreciated most.

  13. Romi

    This was such a fantastic read for me, Bec, but I get you. I enjoyed the story and was in the perfect place for it to come to me, but I did dislike some of Willow’s actions and what she said to some people was forgiven way too easily, and vice versa. In other stories, and dealt with in other ways, it would have been really unhappy for me, but something about this was just… kinda perfect. I forgave her faults in a way I often wouldn’t and stuck with her story for how hard it hit me, how much it gave me. Sorry it wasn’t as fantastic for you, though! Hope your next read is closer to 5 stars, and lovely review. xx
    Romi recently posted…Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead.

    • Bec

      I’m glad it resonated with you! It was very relatable and I can think of a few times in my life where it would have hit me hard.

  14. Danielle

    I adore your new layout first of all!

    This book has gotten so many raves, it’s nice to see another voice to get a more balanced view. I have a feeling I would probably really enjoy this book but I can see why it wouldn’t necessarily blow you away. Lovely review, Bec!
    Danielle recently posted…Freedom’s Child by Jax Miller | Review

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