REVIEW: Dumplin’

Author: Julie Murphy

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Rating: ★★★

Visit Dumplin‘s goodreads page here

Publisher: Penguin Teen Australia

Release Date: 15th September 2015

Get your own copy from The Book DepositoryAmazon or directly from Penguin Australia

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SYNOPSIS: Willowdean Dickson (Dumplin’, to her mum) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Really, the criteria is simple. Do you have a body? Put a swimsuit on it.

But life as Willlow knows it is about to change, and when this happens she suffers an unaccustomed, and unwelcome, attack of self-doubt. In an effort to take back her confidence, she enters into the local Miss Teen Blue Bonner beauty pageant.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs and a wildly unforgettable heroine – Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart. And send you out to buy that bikini

I received an ARC edition from Penguin Teen Australia in exchange for an honest review.


When I read the synopsis, I knew this was a book I need to have. Now that I have read it, I feel under whelmed and disappointed. All the hype surrounding this novel, and the movie that’s in development, feels over rated and somehow impacted my thoughts towards this book.

Having a self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson, nicknamed Dumplin’ by her mother (hence the book title), as the protagonist was a breath of fresh air. A normal, typical girl that everyone could relate to in a number of ways was fantastic. Willowdean wasn’t the normal ‘fat girl character’ that we have learned to detest, like many others I anticipated her to complain about her body and compare herself to other unrealistically skinny girls. Where as in the novel she does mention her insecurities and differences to the other Miss Teen Blue Bonnett Beauty Pageant, but she embraces her differences and continues on her journey to equality.

When you love someone enough, you accept their flaws. You make sacrifices to keep them sane.” The story behind this novel is of friendship and fighting for what you believe in/deserve. Willowdean had a loving family to support her during her childhood, but when her aunty dies suddenly her life is turned upside down. The one person was, and still is there, is her best friend El. Their relationship is completer opposites, where Willdowdean is shy, overweight and lacking support, El is the repetitive ‘fat girls best friend’. I found their friendship annoying, and El awkward around Will and the whole fat idea. El did accept Willowdean flaws, but only to a certain extent. I feel the story would have been exactly the same with the deletion of El’s character, so why bother including her?

What I truly love about this was positive body image from multiple characters. Far too often in today’s society you see stick thin models, that influence the perception of beauty. We are taught that rib cages and collar bones are beautiful, and if you don’t have protruding bones you are exiled. This novel fights these standards and show that it’s perfectly fine to have a curvy body. During this story Willowdean demonstrates that she lives a normal life, and doesn’t let stereotypes hold her down. The main message is that if you believe in yourself, you can achieve anything. Even when she be friends the school outcasts, who are all classed as freaks as they all have an abnormality. The concept that they enter the pageant to defy the constraints and to prove that they are beautiful in their own unique way was truly inspiring. I’m sure everyone can relate with this in someway or another.

The pageant drama was what I was truly looking forward to; sadly it was non-existent. I was hoping for a few petty fights between the groups, but they were all supportive and loving towards each other; as though they were a tight knit family.

Thrown among the romance and pageant drama were humorous moments that will translate well onto the big screen. Lessons on cat walking from drag queens, a charming and swoon worthy young man Bo that you can’t help but fall in love with. I’m excited to see this lovable story turned into a fantastic movie that will warm the hearts of thousands and inspire the young women of the world.


“I wish there were some kind of magic words that could bridge the gap between the person I am and the one I wish I could be. Because the whole fake it till you make it thing? It’s not working for me” Its such a refreshing read with great body image messages, that I’m sure everyone will want to hear and will relate to. I highly recommend everyone gives this ago, you will not regret it.

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