Book Review | Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy: An Ode to Self-Love

Title: Dumplin’
Author: Julie Murphy
Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: September 15, 2015
Pages: 384


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.


“If you got it, flaunt it.”

When I heard there was going to be a book that represents for all the plus size girls, I was like hell yeah! It’s very hard to find big girls in YA that aren’t just the comedic sidekick or portrayed as being completely unhappy with themselves, so I had high hopes for Dumplin’.

Dumplin’ is about a teenage girl named Willowdean trying to navigate life the best she can. She’s got to deal with an old friendship she may be outgrowing, constantly falling out with her mother, and the makings of her first relationship, while also trying to learn to love herself unconditionally. Overall, I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but the good definitely outweighed any small flaws I found with it.

I HATED Willowdean’s mom. With a fiery passion. I can’t explain the anger I felt every time she said something horrible then tried to act like the victim when Willowdean would point it out to her. She is so lucky to have had her aunt, Lucy, in her life.

The romance was super cute, and I loved loved loved Bo! I do wish we got more romance, but I understand that Murphy had other messages she wanted (and needed) to drive home, as well. There were some moments between them that had me squeeling and rolling around in my bed, lol. And there were times that I wanted to just shake Willowdean and be like, “Girl, stop trippin’! You are good enough!”

I’ve found that people who don’t like this book usually have an issue with Willowdean. Many feel that she is a hypocrite, and I can see that logic towards the beginning of the book. Yes, she’s no angel. However, I find her “hypocrisy” to be realistic. She is struggling with coming to terms with herself. She has her confident days and she has her insecure days, which is understandable considering she has been conditioned since very young to believe that she is less than. I think people that have struggled with weight can relate to and sympathize with Willowdean.

“Sometimes figuring out who you are means understanding that we are a mosaic of experiences. I’m Dumplin’. And Will and Willowdean. I’m fat. I’m happy. I’m insecure. I’m bold.”

There were so many great messages in this book, including: Love yourself! Every body is a good body! Don’t worry about what others think, and do the things you want to do! This book doesn’t only preach self-love when it comes to size, it preaches loving yourself no matter what isn’t “conventionally” appealing about yourself. Some parts of this book really hit close to home for me and I felt like I finally saw myself in a YA novel. I just want to push this book into the hands of any young girl who might think they aren’t worthy because of their appearance.

“Beautiful, he says. Fat, I think. But can’t I be both at the same time?”

You can, girl! You totally can!

4 Stars!



6 thoughts on “Book Review | Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy: An Ode to Self-Love

  1. I have this one on hold at my library, so hopefully I’m next up in line. I’ve wanted to read it since I saw it earlier this year. There needs to be more books centered around characters like Willowdean.


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