Review: Puddin' (Dumplin, #2) by Julie Murphy

Title: Puddin' (Dumplin', #2)
Author: Julie Murphy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 448 Pages
Published May 2018

Summary: Millie Michalchuk has gone to fat camp every year since she was a girl. Not this year. This year she has new plans to chase her secret dream—and to kiss her crush. Callie Reyes is the pretty girl who is next in line for dance team captain and has the popular boyfriend. But when it comes to other girls, she’s more frenemy than friend. When circumstances bring the girls together over the course of a semester, they will surprise everyone (especially themselves) by realizing they might have more in common than they ever imagined.

I read Dumplin' a few years ago, and as soon as I finished it, I immediately knew that I had fallen in love with Julie Murphy's writing. And it's definitely safe to say that I felt the same way with Puddin'! If you're looking for a feel-good book about demanding the world treats you with respect while also getting to see some awesome friendships, cute boys, plus lots of jokes and revenge, then this book is definitely for you. So without further ado, let's get into the review!

As the summary explains, Millie knows that this is her summer. She doesn't want to keep going to fat camp, and she instead wants to apply to a journalism boot camp, even though she knows her parents definitely won't approve. Especially not her mother, who is hell bent on making sure Millie pulls out the inner "skinny girl" that's been waiting inside of her for so long. Even if that isn't what she wants.

And then Millie meets Callie, resident dance expert at their high school, who makes a few stupid decisions that definitively kick her off of the team and have her as Millie's coworker instead. But as prickly as Callie can be, Millie sees something inside her worth getting to know, despite Callie's rudest efforts to keep her at bay. But before long, both girls start to realize there's more to each other than meets the eye, and an unlikely friendship starts to bloom.

What I loved most about this book was how unapologetic Millie was, in all aspects of her life. There isn't a single instance in this book (at least, one that I could remember) where Millie wished she was skinnier or regretted being fat or felt ashamed of who she was. She knew from the very start of this story that she wanted to be a journalist, and she wanted to be on the air, regardless of what people's misconceptions about beauty were. She knew what she was after and she would stop at nothing to get it. And that attitude really resonated with me and had me cheering her on with each passing page. 

Another thing I really enjoyed about this book was the reappearance of some of my favorite characters! At first, I was a bit worried since it's been so long since I've read Dumplin', and I'll admit that my memory of the specific stuff that happened with the pageant was kind of fuzzy, so I wasn't sure how confused I would be. But it didn't end up being an issue at all, and seeing the adorable relationship between Willowdean and Bo made my heart all warm and fuzzy again just like it did the first time I stepped into their story. The appearance of all the old characters and the references to the pageant were, in my opinion, perfectly balanced out -- the story can absolutely stand on its own, but there are definitely a lot of Easter eggs in there for diligent readers!

However, I wasn't in love with all of the characters -- Callie was definitely my least favorite and got on my nerves a lot, even if she had a decent character arc and came around toward the end. She said a lot of pretty hurtful things, both internally and externally, that made me dislike her from the very beginning, and there were also some times where she seemed kind of spoiled. Maybe that's just my opinion because I avoided girls like that in high school, so I could be totally biased I wouldn't necessarily take my thoughts on this to have any weight. But yeah, I really wasn't a fan of her, but her swing around toward the end was a little more uplifting and made me tolerate her just a little more. But Millie definitely remains my favorite.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Puddin', and I'm so glad that I finally got the chance to pick it up. If you haven't read this companion novel yet, then it's safe to say that you're definitely missing out -- and if you haven't read either book yet, then what on earth are you waiting for? Two amazing stories from the hysterical, badass Julie Murphy await, and you definitely don't want to miss out on them!

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