Today I'm part of the blog tour for Dumplin' by Julie Murphy, and I want to say straight up that I loved this book! I know there's been a lot of buzz about it and many of you have probably read it already, but if you haven't then please do! I actually read it twice to write this review as the first time I read it in one sitting and stayed up waaaay too late trying to finish it so my head was a bit fuzzy on details towards the end and I wanted to make sure I didn't miss anything.
Dumplin' is the story of Willowdean Dickson. She's fat and comfortable with her body. She doesn't see why she should be ashamed of the way that she is and her confidence and sass, at least in her own head, are admirable. That is until the guy she likes at work likes her back and she finds herself letting her insecurities affect her like she never has before.
I absolutely adored the layers of story in Dumplin'. Centred around the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet pageant, which Willowdean's mother once won and now organises, it is about her issues with her mother, about how they are coping after the death of her aunt, her relationship with Bo (the boy at work) and her best friend Ellen, and how the insecurities she pretends not to have affect these relationships, and overall about what happens when she decides to enter the pageant.
I haven't read a narrator or protagonist I liked as much as Willowdean for a long, long time. I wanted to hang out with her. I loved her voice and her bravado, but I especially liked it when her vulnerability showed. There are so many lines in the book that I just loved and I think it's really important for everyone (but particularly teenagers) to see someone who describes themselves as fat being completely unapologetic about it. The book asks important questions about why it is that we feel it's OK for us to judge people we know nothing about based on their looks, and also about what it means to be beautiful and for me it was extremely refreshing to have a protagonist who wasn't your run of the mill teenage narrator.
Although it's not really the same, a lot of things about Dumplin' reminded me of My Mad Fat Diary, which is a totally brilliant thing as I adore that series. Dumplin' is full of loveable, relateable and very real characters. I always hate it when people describe books as 'having lots of heart' but this one really does and it will tug at yours!
Oh and did I say, quotable? I've turned over so many pages while reading this because of lines I just loved. and Harper have made some fantastic graphics for a few of them!
Thank you so much to Alice from Harper360 for giving me the opportunity to read this amazing book and take part in the blog tour. Please check out the other stops on the tour and find Julie Murphy on twitter @andimJULIE.