Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy + Mini Spoiler Section

So recently, Faith and I went to this AMAZING dumpling restaurant in Toronto. It was actually really great and so we are here to post pictures to make you jelly.

NOT. Did we getcha or not?

The Real Deal:

384 pages
Published September 15th 2015 by Balzer + Bray
Genres: YA, Contemporary, Romance, Body Positive, Friendship


Summary (Taken from Goodreads): 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.

“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. Fat. Skinny. Short. Tall. It doesn’t matter.”

But the word fat, the one that best describes me, makes lips frown and cheeks lose their colour. But that’s me. I’m fat. It’s not a cuss word. It’s not an insult. At least it’s not when I say it. So I always figure why not get it out of the way?

S: I enjoyed this book and I loved its cover even more. It’s so simple ~ and bold. I love the confidence it exudes… and the caption is even better.

F: Bold is a great way to put it for the entire book. This is a feel-good-about-yourself book and I feel like the world needs more of them.

S: I thought this book was solid overall. It had some flaws, but it was extremely relatable.

F: Even if you’re not in the same position as her, you would probably find yourself agreeing to what she has to say about body image.

S: I know this might be random (or not, since we are discussing a book about body image), But has anyone ever felt bad, like HORRIBLE about the way they looked?
I have.

Even Hermione had issues. (And she was in the stone age of try hard…)

S: I mean, have you ever thought of how pervasive this body negative (because that’s the only word there is for it) culture is? 97% of girls have had a “I hate my body” moment. 97% of women think that there is something wrong with themselves.

F: I mean that possibly can’t be a thing because with every single person different on the entire 7 billion of the Earth, how are you comparing yourself to someone else who is completely, utterly different from you? Okay, you may not be as “pretty” or whatever counts as cool but let’s face it, you’re unique from at LEAST 699 999 999 people. You have what you have and everyone else has what they have. (This goes for myself as much as for anyone else.)

S: EXACTLY. People we see in the magazines aren’t always the real thing. Photoshop and media can be distorted. People need to stop the “getting together and tearing themselves down with friends” thing. I mean, it’s understandable that sharing insecurities allows us to become closer, but is it so wrong of me to like the fact that I’m curvy? That I like my chubbier than most people cheeks? There’s nothing wrong with having an off day, where you feel like crap. But a regular occurrence of that day is just plain awful.

Mean Girls highlights the absurdity. I mean, seriously, your nail-beds?

F: And like we said before, we all have these moments. Of course, this doesn’t only go for girls.

S: Willodean was funny, sassy and told it how it is. She was also vulnerable ~ she had her moments of doubt and self pity. But she was extremely relatable. She is basically the manifestation of what teen girls fear, but like she says, she isn’t a cuss world. She is just a fat girl, trying to make her way in the world.

F: I liked that she was upfront about things. She’s not complicated to understand. What I don’t like is Sarah stealing all my lines…

S: I started out enjoying her friendship with her bestie, Ellen, but then that deteriorated real quick. I didn’t enjoy that aspect, but I appreciated the effort put into a nuanced friendship

F: I just really liked that Ellen didn’t care about how Willowdean looked like others may have, it was nice.

S: I LOOOOOVED the slow burn romance. Every girl needs a Bo Larson. Every girl. However, I hated the love triangle in the book. Even though it wasn’t much of a love triangle, I still didn’t enjoy that plot device. Dumplin’ was angsty enough on its own. It didn’t need a contrived love triangle to get a message across.

F: The thing I have with the romance is that there’s this great guy that just really likes her and it almost seems too perfect to be true. It’s like perfection. I just felt like in reality, people are much more judgmental and that a super good looking guy like Bo, would not be the one to fall for someone like Willowdean. That’s just unfortunately how society works.

S:  That is the exact problem that this book is trying to combat. The idea that fat people aren’t worthy of the romances so common in YA today. That no one would want to make out with them. That they aren’t sexy enough. By normalizing a fat girl and hot guy romance, Julie Murphy shows readers that romance, YA and girl problems are for everyone, not just the image Hollywood and YA project. She manages to throw in so many different clichés, and although her book isn’t perfect, it succeeds in breaking into mainstream YA.

F: Anyways, this is a fun, bold, encouraging, and all-around happy book. The characters were real and like Sarah said, this had many cliches. I think that it’s a collision 0f fictional book cliches and societal impossibilities, creating a fantabulous fun-spiring (Faith lingo: fun+inspiring) read.

Our rating: 4/5 stars.

Spoilerish Section (Warning – Rambling ahead):

F: Like I mentioned before, this is NOT an issue reserved to girls. Guys face this too and I just had a thought. I feel like this book was pretty one-sided although it is a message for everyone. Why? Well as you read the book, you loved how Will, despite how she looked to other people, looks didn’t affect the way Bo saw her which is what we all admired about the entire thing. He liked her the same. At the same time, here is where it disconnected to me as in being less realistic.

S: Almost as realistic as this CGI… kidding. It wasn’t that bad

I find that the imperfections in characters make stories more perfect. So he did have his own weaknesses BUT I feel like Julie Murphy could have added some parts to make the message apply to BOTH genders. What if, Bo Larson secretly had insecurities about himself and his appearance although he is the epitome of perfection to everyone else? Everyone supposes that he’s completely comfortable in his own skin, right?

S: When you tryna’ settle down 😉

What if he just felt like there was something he didn’t like about himself… say his nose or the way his hair looked. I don’t really know except that it’s always something unimportant and probably unnoticeable to most people… except to yourself, it’s Mt. Everests of all problems with your body image.

Anyways, then as the story progresses, maybe he finds that Will was the one he really liked partially because she was the one who completely understood his self consciousness while everyone else with their assumptions, just didn’t get him.

I just feel like it would have added so much more depth and dimension to the story so that EVERYONE applies: gorgeous people and people who think that they aren’t.

S: That is an adorable thought. That would have given Bo more depth, but at the same time, I can see why the author didn’t include that aspect (because I feel that would over complicate things).

F: True, Sarah also has a point.

S: Anyway, now on to the Spoilery section. Real spoilers, we promise.

As we were reading other spoilery reviews, all the less than positive reviews had issues with mainly one specific part of the book.

F: Basically, if you have read Dumplin’, then you know that a huge part of the book is this tiny little thing that really comes between the best friendship of Ellen and Willowdean. Will entered the beauty pageant and well, Ellen wanted to tag along too. But nope, Will was not going to have it and many people found that they weren’t on the same page with this. “How could she be so selfish?””Why would she do this to her best friend?” They wondered.

S: Think of it this way, if you were a girl who people regularly looked down on, entered a beauty pageant where you were sure to be ridiculed, would you want your gorgeous best friend (who actually fits in and enjoys the culture as well as having an actual fair chance of winning) to enter with you? I mean, sure, a support system is nice, but Will’s counterculture message about her beauty only works when you aren’t already considered beautiful by the culture’s standards. I mean, does it make sense for Nike to make fun of Nike’s use of child labour? It dilutes the message, and that was what Willowdean was trying to say.

F: With Ellen’s slight interference, it was countering Will’s statement that she was trying to make everyone else and I guess that is something that we understood that others apparently didn’t.

S: And that is the end of our spoilery rant. We hope you guys have enjoyed reading this as much as Faith and I have enjoyed writing it.
Go and pick up Dumplin’ ~ it might not be your cup of tea, but it raises some interesting points and topics.

Happy reading!

~ Sarah & Faith & an Anonymous Writing Cat

4 thoughts on “Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy + Mini Spoiler Section

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