Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

March 13, 2017 Coming of Age, Young Adult Fiction 15

Howdy Bookworms!

It has been a BUSY couple of weeks, let me tell you what. First of all, I want to thank everyone so so so much for all your incredibly supportive and sweet comments regarding the impending arrival of Babysaurus Bookworm. I’ve been overwhelmed in the best possible way with all the love and spoiling this little dude has already received. Last weekend I visited with some of my favorite BEA Bookworms (Stacey and Julz wrote adorable recaps) and I visited one of my ride or die BFFs who made me the world’s best guacamole. Seriously, Chrissy. I’m still daydreaming about that guac. I’d love to write a sonnet to that guacamole, and one day I might, but in the meantime, I thought I should probably attempt to make a dent in the giant pile of books I’ve read that I haven’t yet told you about. So let’s start with a fun one, shall we? It’s Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy!

Willowdean Dixon lives in a tiny town in Texas where the biggest event of the year is a beauty pageant for teenage girls. Will (or “Dumplin'” if you’re her former beauty queen mother) has always been comfortable in her own skin, but she has also always known that her body type does not fit society’s standards of beauty. It’s not until she begins dating a super handsome jock that she begins to feel truly insecure about her size. But Will won’t go down so easily. Not with her best friend by her side, a dash of moxie, and an abiding love of Dolly Parton.

I loooove a book with a heroine with some meat on her bones, y’all. There are oodles of YA books out there full of impossibly beautiful teenage girls. Granted, they normally don’t realize they’re impossibly beautiful until a boy comes along, but I love the idea of a main character who couldn’t be played by a typical Hollywood glam girl in the movie version, you know? Because as much as I love me some cheesy 90s teen movies, glasses and a ponytail don’t actually make a gorgeous actress look awkward. Just one of the reasons I loved Dumplin’. Some of the other reasons are a bit more personal…

Did I ever tell y’all about the time I was in a pageant? Sorry, “scholarship program.” Yes, they used the same line that’s used in Miss Congeniality. My teenage self was a study in contradictions, because while I was busy wearing really huge pants and listening to the angstiest grunge the late 90s had to offer, I was also still very involved in dance classes and, to a lesser extent, high school theater. Which is why, for reasons twisty and confusing, I decided to compete in said “scholarship program.” This book brought SO MUCH of that back. So much. Whew. (In case you’re wondering, I did not win that pageant, I came inย first runner up, which legitimately did net me enough scholarship money to pay for my first semester’s books in college. Also, the thought of my talent routine makes me cringe to this very day. It involved pig tails and tap shoes and Bjork. Because of course it did.)

Moral of the story? Read Dumplin’. And please, if you have an embarrassing high school story, share it. Because pig tails and tap shoes, you guys.

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15 Responses to “Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy”

    • wordsfor

      You will love this book, Joules. It’s totally a Joules book. Part of me wants to dig up old photos from that pageant. Other parts of me think it’s a terrible idea. I will say, though, that the dress I wore for the formal parts was my junior prom dress and I think it holds up pretty well. Even though the pageant director said “you probably shouldn’t wear black” I did and nearly 15 years later it looks much less ridiculous than the sparkly blue number I wore to senior prom. So. At least that part wasn’t terrible?

  1. Rhian

    I can’t particularly recall any embarrassing high school stories and I’d like to say it’s because I was too cool to do anything embarrassing but the truth is that I was probably too nerdy to notice.

    • wordsfor

      No swan dress. It was almost as bad though. There was a getup involving bloomers. It was somewhere between childlike and Old-West Brothel.

  2. thatashgirl

    Oh man this has been on my To Read list forever. Btw….pageants or “scholarship programs” are such a bizarre thing to Canadians. I know in theory we have them. But it just not a thing. Or at least a common thing.

    • wordsfor

      Yeah, they’re not really super common in the Midwestern US either (at least not as common as they seem to be in the South) but for some reason there was an active local level pageant in my hometown. Did you ever see Drop Dead Gorgeous? I always imagined myself as Kirsten Dunst’s character, though in retrospect, I was decidedly not.

    • wordsfor

      Oh gosh. I forgot that I bullied all my friends into coming to watch the dang thing. I’m glad you still talk to me after that, LOL!

  3. Lindsey Stefan

    I’ve never been in a pageant and I don’t have any particular feelings about Dolly Parton, but I did love this book. This is the kind of book that convinces me to wander around the YA section in the library every so often. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Also, I second the need for us to see some photographic proof of the aforementioned pageant!

  4. Jenny @ Reading the End

    Wait, what’s Chrissy’s secret? I must know! I make a good guacamole but I am always excited to learn new ways to up my game. The game-changers in my own guac have been the substitution of lemon for lime, plus a few splashes of red wine vinegar. Tell your friends.

    • wordsfor

      The guac secret is in the preparation I think. She used a traditional stone mortar and pestle dealie (it had a pig face too, which was adorable). She basically mashed the ever loving crap out of the onions and herbs and whatever and let it sit for a bit before adding the avocados. The flavors were perfectly distributed and that molcajete gets seasoned the more you use it (like cast iron) so each successive guac is more delicious.

  5. Samantha

    I loooved this book! Devoured it in less than two days. ๐Ÿ˜€ I feel like I’ve blocked out most embarrassing high school stories, most of them happened in middle school, I’d say. :/ But when you have the same classmates from middle to high school, well…it follows you. ๐Ÿ˜›

Talk to me, Bookworms!