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Empowering & Honest | Book Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy is one of those books everyone should read this year.

Book Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

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dumplin julie murphy book review

Title & Author: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary

Release Date: September 15, 2015

Series: Standalone

Publisher: HarperCollins

How I Got the Book: ARC via the publisher


“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.”

Empowering & Real

Dumplin’ is a book I wish existed when I was in high school. Even after finishing it yesterday, I keep thinking about Willowdean and her internal dialogue about her body image and friendship struggles and family issues.

What makes Dumplin’ awesome are all the details and the ways I think so many women can relate to the story.

Like the description says Willowdean (Will) is a “self-proclaimed fat girl” who wears confidence like a superhero cape. The thing is now that she’s finally kissed a (hot) boy, her cape is slipping and self-consciousness is creeping in.

Although very much different from each other, Dumplin reminded me of The DUFF in that the main character made me feel connected to their life.

I understand Willowdean’s struggles with comparing herself to her skinny friend Ellen and how her body is her pride and her shame. There is so much real talk in Dumplin’ that I highlighted the heck out of it.

Here are a few of my favorites:

I’m Dumplin’. And Will and Willowdean. I’m fat. I’m happy. I’m insecure. I’m bold.

Perfection is nothing more than a phantom shadow we’re all chasing.

The only thing I wanted to see less of was a kind of back-and-forth-ness that kept happening in the story. Minds are changed. Decisions are reconsidered. That happens! But a few times I really felt frustrated by that being what drove the tension of the book.

Other than that, the book adds real depth with complicated family relationships, confusion about new feelings and making unlikely friends.

The best thing about Dumplin’ is the honesty. It’s like seeing a diary page I wrote in my head being torn out and published. I want to make every girl who thinks or feels or IS fat to read this book and understand they’re not alone.


I’m so glad I read this book. It has one of the strongest and clearest voices that I think readers will latch onto – especially girls and women. I definitely recommend Dumplin’ and all its funny, honest, beautiful glory.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • Beth

    Oh yay! I’m glad to hear it’s as good as it sounds.

  • Jeanna Michel

    I just finished this book and really enjoyed it! Definitely inspiring; great review! Happy reading!

    Check out my review