ARC Review: Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

Title: Dumplin'
Author: Julie Murphy
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Paperback, 384 Pages
Expected Date of Publication: September 15th, 2015
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
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Summary: 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.
I received an ARC copy of this book when I met up with our friend Nori from ReadWriteLove28 at BookCon in May!

Dumplin' is definitely one of the best feel-good books I've read in a long time. It gives you such a sense of empowerment - a sense of screw what everyone thinks, because I like this and it makes me happy - something that everyone needs to feel every once in awhile.

Willowdean's sass and sarcastic sense of humor kept me laughing for the whole duration of this book. Right off the bat, she acknowledges the fact that she's fat. Not "overweight" or "chunky" or "fluffy" or "big-boned" - she just outright says that she's fat. Right after she mentions it, she mentions how most people get visibly uncomfortable when that word, fat, is thrown around to brazenly. ('ll openly admit that if someone outright called themselves fat in front of me, I would be super uncomfortable and freak out and not know how to handle it.) However, according to Willowdean, it's better to get it out in the open than to hear it behind your back, right? She's right.

This book is the physical definition of confidence. Like, if you could hold confidence, such an abstract concept, in your hand, you'd be holding a copy of Dumplin'. Willowdean gives zero fricks what anybody thinks about her size. Her thoughts on having a bikini body is that to put a darn bikini on whatever body you have. She pays bullies no mind. To everyone else, she appears happy in her own skin and doesn't care a lick what anyone else has to say otherwise. 

However, once Willowdean falls for her gorgeous co-worker, Bo, and things get close, she finds her self-consciousness soaring through the roof. Something that she'd never had to deal with before. She really likes Bo, but she can't imagine him ever seeing her body and not being revolted by what he sees. 

The duration of the book takes you through Willowdean's struggle between not caring what anyone thinks of her and feigning confidence while inwardly beating herself up because of her appearance. Although Willowdean seemed to have a confidence that every teenage girl is envious of, below the surface, she has the same image struggles that every girl has. Even though she has enough intelligence to recognize that the feelings she has are just a product of her imagination and she shouldn't care, she does. And that, to me, is very important. I can speak with confidence from the point of view of an average teenaged girl (short, average face, body, etc.) that every girl, no matter what her body type is, feels insecure at one point or another. If you're a girl (although I'm sure this goes for guys too - I just can't speak with assurance on it because, alas, I am not a member of the odd species that goes by the name of Males)..anyway, if you're a girl, you can definitely think back to at least one moment in your teenage life where you looked in the mirror in a bathing suit or bra and underwear and had even the tiniest flicker of doubt that you were pretty enough. Skinny enough. Developed enough. We've all felt it - no point in beating around the bush.

So yeah, even if Willowdean was considered big, the level of insecurities that she harnessed didn't seem much larger to me than that of every other teenage girl. So although this book preaches about embracing your body and not caring what anybody thinks, it also acknowledges the fact that no one girl can be happy in her skin from the moment she's born until the moment she dies - Julie Murphy demonstrates through Willowdean that some insecurities may happen every now and then, and that's okay. That's to be expected. There's nothing wrong with you if you doubt yourself against your will once in a blue moon. You just need to know not to listen to that doubt.

All in all, Dumplin' was a book that kept me up late laughing, cheering on Willowdean at all the right parts, and left me with a better sense of self. This book taught me that no matter how self conscious I may ever feel about anything, nothing is standing in the way of me and my goals except for my own insecurities, which are silly and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. This was such a fantastic book that I recommend to anybody who would want to sit down and feel good about themselves!


DISCLAIMER: I received an ARC copy of this book with the intention of me posting an entirely honest review. Every thought and opinion expressed in this review is entirely my own and neither author Julie Murphy, Nori, nor the publisher had any prior knowledge of my review before its publication on the 3rd of August, 2015.


  1. I've been wanting to read this book for a while, and I'm kind of jealous that you got a copy already (especially since I went to BookCon and didn't get one!). Jealousy aside, that was an absolutely awesome review, Jessica!!!!! :)

  2. I didn't get this one at BEA and now I feel like I should have! Great review Jessica!

  3. I'm so glad to see that you liked this one! I've been hearing really amazing things about it lately. Great review-I can't wait for this one to be released now! :)
    Krystianna @ Downright Dystopian

  4. I'm so excited to read this book! Everyone seems to be loving it.
    Bruna @ Bruna Writes

  5. I can't wait to read this! Willowdean sounds like a character I would totally love :) I'm so glad you enjoyed Dumplin' and that it genuinely addresses body image but still makes you feel good about yourself. Awesome review!

    Zareena @ The Slanted Bookshelf


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