Sunday, March 12, 2017


Murphy, Julie. Dumplin' : Go Big or Go Home. Harper Collins, 2015.
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Summary (from
Dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom, Willowdean 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 Teen Blue Bonnet 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.

My Thoughts
This book is HILARIOUS! The author captures so many elements of living in Texas. I even wrote in my notes about this book these "nuggets of wisdom, things as a Southerner, I just understand." I wondered if readers from other states would even see some of the nuances. The story can be enjoyed without it, but there are just some things that are funnier knowing (I'm specifically thinking right now about the judging committee. I shared that part with two different people I sat near because it was so descriptive and funny!).
"You don't always have to win to wear a crown" (Murphy 67).
This is the story of Willowdean Dickson. She is overweight and lives in a small Texas town (fictitious Clover City) known for its beauty pageant, "Miss Teen Blue Bonnet." Her mother won years ago and now heads up the planning committee to pull off the event. When Will decides she's going to enter the contest, she begins a crusade that will not only affect her but her town as well.

I heard Murphy at TLA last year (2016) on a panel called Humor in YA Lit. I'd seen some buzz about the book, but just didn't pick it up until this spring. It fulfilled the humor part, but it wasn't just laugh after laugh. (Although I often wrote "HA!" in my notes). There are some serious moments (e.g., Will's friend confides in her about having sex).

I was pleased how friendships formed in this story and appreciate that Murphy explores many levels of relationships. I loved that in trying to honor her aunt's memory, Will learns some wonderful truths about her aunt. I liked the honestly of the writing and the characters.

I also liked how this story linked with The Serpent King (by Jeff Zentner) that I finished reading before this book. Both novels are set in small towns where the kids are eager to leave and both have a connection to Dolly Parton. I always enjoy when I see connective threads between the books I read.

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