Dumplin’, by Julie Murphy


Four stars, read in June 2016.

I’ve been considering whether to change this to a five-star rating . . . Can’t quite decide. I already know I want to read it again, and I’m thrilled to see that Goodreads has given it a series page, meaning at least one sequel will be happening. These are characters we needed—Hannah, Millie, Amanda, Ellen, even Bo—and especially Willowdean.

I found some of the more popular Goodreads reviews totally confusing on this front, because to me, Willowdean was a realistic and highly relatable character. She doesn’t always act the way she should, even when she knows she’s wrong, and if you’re telling me that’s never been true of you, I’m pretty sure you’re lying. (Example: Objectively, what she said to Ellen about the pageant wasn’t fair. But life isn’t objective, and though I think Ellen was right in her response, I also think she should have been able to understand where Willowdean was coming from.)

Everyone thinks Will is more confident than she is, because she doesn’t believe in making herself invisible to make others comfortable—but knowing something in your head doesn’t mean your gut doesn’t still struggle with it, and that internal voice was my favorite thing about her. When I say I want to read it again, it’s because I think Julie Murphy really nailed those thought processes, the conversations Will has with herself when she’s freaked out by a boy touching her backfat or whatever. I wasn’t fat as a teenager, but I genuinely thought I was. Whether you’re “actually” fat or not—whatever that even means, since it’s a subjective concept anyway—most people can probably relate to that feeling, and the idea of being able to read along with someone else who’s figuring it out is what makes this book fantastic.

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