Buddy read, Fiction, Well known books, YA

Finding Your Beauty Queen – Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy A Book About Accepting Yourself And Taking Everything From Life

This time we have Dumplin’ as our buddy read! I’ve decided to make the buddy read feature appear more often on the blog, because:

  • have you TRIED buddy reading? It’s so much fun!
  • it gives exposure to other bloggers
  • it often helps you dig that old book from your TBR and just read it already!

I read Dumplin’ with the lovely Sim @ Flipping Through The Pages, who is a relatively fresh blogger with an already quite large (and growing!) audience. Sim is an amazing person, so get to know her better and head onto her blog to read her review (with my questions!)

I’m almost sure you’ve heard about this book already, but if you haven’t? It’s a body-positive book about a fat girl who decides that she too has every right to compete in a beauty pageant. Contrary to popular belief, this book isn’t about competing in a beauty pageant, rather, it’s more about just accepting yourself and being proud of who you are. And it’s not just about being fat as a girl – it’s about being a girl and having something about yourself that you’re struggling to accept or that others can’t accept. Which makes this story incredibly relatable, because don’t we all have something we’d rather change about ourselves?

This book does not hide behind pretty words, it talks about everything in the open, even all the negative aspects (of both bodies and people’s characters), so if you feel like you might be sensitive to that, maybe you shouldn’t read it. But that’s something I really loved about it. So on with the questions!

Let’s talk about the cringing romance. The romance was on and off, which I loved actually. But at the times I felt that she was pathetic about this most of the time? I mean okay I get it that being a fat person makes you insecure but at the end you have two dudes basically!! So isn’t it something that was stretched? I mean those loathed feelings and because of which she kept Mitch hanging till end?


Sorry Sim, but I had to spoiler tag some parts of your question 😀 some background for those who haven’t read the book: Will has never felt too bad about being fat, but when she starts experiencing physical contact with someone, she suddenly becomes hyper-aware of her body, in a bad way. For me, this seemed like the moment of crisis for Will. When we are growing up, we all have this moment of “oh, I thought I would grow up to be this and this, but I suddenly realize I’m not”. It’s like a veil being removed from your eyes, and I believe this happens to most people – thin or fat, tall or short, whatever. I have felt this and I didn’t feel it was unnatural. I agree that Will’s actions regarding romance seemed quite stupid, but humans DO do stupid things, so I wouldn’t say it felt unnatural to me. This whole situation depicts Will’s journey towards self-acceptance and learning, and if you’re new to relationships, of course you’re going to make mistakes, because you’re not sure how it works!

I should also talk about Bo, the love interest. I thought he was depicted very realistically! None of that ‘mysterious, handsome and brooding asshole’ stuff. Yes, he was being an asshole, yes, he was handsome, and he was sort of mysterious – but none of that was depicted as something to strive for! He was shown from both the good and bad sides, and he truly cared for Will and who she was – there’s no savior trope. It was great.

What do you think of Will as a character? Though I loved her throughout most of Dumplin’, but I think that at times she was self-centered? She even fought with her best friend. What’s your take on this?


For context: Will is the main character, although I’m sure you’ve all realized that already! Oh yeah, I absolutely agree that Will was self-centered and it wasn’t nice how she treated her best friend. And in the end, I think even Will realized that! I actually loved this about will, as a written character – it added so much more depth to her that she was being selfish at times! We don’t want perfect characters in books. Food needs to be savory as well as sweet sometimes! Which is why I can confidently say I loved Will, even with her imperfections, because they just made her more relatable and realistic. And also, show me a teen who isn’t self-centered? Being teenage is ALL ABOUT being self-centered and learning how to get out of it!

What do you think about other character portrayals in Dumplin’, like Millie, Hannah, etc.? I felt that they were realistic and enjoyable. What do you feel about Will’s relationship with them?


I LOVED the supporting cast! They were all pretty colorful and interesting, they all had their unique personalities. Of course, my favorite would be Millie – but I’m willing to be she was most people’s favorite, as she’s getting a book written about her! (I’m talking about the sequel, Puddin’.) I think the support cast really brought out the differences in people’s character, different positive as well as negative points. One more thing about them! What was absolutely great about this book was the fact that a good looking blonde is the sidekick. Not the fat girl. And she’s also clumsy! Again, not the fat girl. I loved that!!

What’s your take on relationship between Will and her mother? And that with Lucy?


Will’s mother was the typical absent YA parent, for most of the book. I was beginning to feel quite disappointed about the trope, but it redeemed itself by the end! I think Will’s mother is portrayed as absent at the start of the book precisely so you could get to know her better, as the story progresses – because that’s essentially what Will is doing too. We learn that her mother does care, and that she’s got feelings too, and she’s not mean at all. Even despite their differences, I loved it how they worked together at the end of the book.

As for Lucy… It’s a sad story, but it’s one of coping with loss and grief (for those who haven’t read Dumplin’, Lucy is Will’s aunt who has died recently, and Will was closer to her than she is to her mother.) Lucy, or rather, the idea of her, plays a big role in the story because it’s the loss of her that progresses it, and it’s also what inspires Will to change many things in her life. There’s a sub-plot of letting go in the book, which all hinges on the existence of Lucy.

What do you think would have happened if Lucy was still around? What changes can you possibly think about? I continuously thought that I would have liked to know more about Lucy’s character. Same for you?


Oh yeah… Lucy seemed almost magical. What with all her (kind of cringy, actually) love for Dolly Parton and the places she used to frequent, people she hung out with? (That’s a spoiler, so I won’t say more!) She was an incredibly interesting character! Also, quite realistically depicted – positives as well as negatives. I would have loved to read more about her. Would Will have taken part in the pageant if Lucy was still around? Maybe. But would she have felt the need to – I doubt it. Would Lucy have been proud though? Hell yes.

What do you think about the ending? I was kind of expecting the “expected” ending but I really was amazed by it. At the end Will really proved to be a strong character and I guess the end was realistic. What’s your take on it?


I actually didn’t expect the “expected” ending. Not going to talk about it in detail, because spoilers, but… I think the ending fits right in, and it’s roughly what I thought would happen! I loved the resolution of all the situations – the pageant, the love interest, the mother-daughter relationship, even what happens to the supporting cast. Yes, I agree that it proves Will’s strength of character indeed. I did not walk away from this ending disappointed!

What are your expectations from Puddin’, the sequel to Dumplin’?

Well… I tend to go into books without prior knowledge! So I haven’t even read the blurb! And I’m not going to 😉 so I guess I am just expecting it to be just as sweet, easy to read and relatable as Dumplin’ was? Although, of course, I’m also super curious to find out more about Millie, as it’s pretty much the only thing I know about the book!

So that’s it for this review! If you enjoyed it, please consider buying the book through this link at Book Depository as it contributes to the blog! If you liked this review format, you can read other buddy read reviews on my blog here: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, The Punch Escrow by Tal M. Klein or Red Rising by Pierce Brown. P.S. If any of you want to buddy read with me, send me a message through the contact form in my “About” page. And we’ll see what we can do!

So have you read or at least heard of Dumplin’? What did you think about it, and are you going to read the sequel? And don’t forget to check out Sim’s buddy read review!

I’m Evelina and I try to blog about books that matter, with a bit of fun there too! Disability and equality will be topics you see a lot, but there’s also a lot of scifi, fantasy and… GIFs. I’m also the proud founder of #ARCsAnonymous.

36 thoughts on “Finding Your Beauty Queen – Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy A Book About Accepting Yourself And Taking Everything From Life

  1. Haha clearly I didn’t realise that I am putting some spoilers in my question itself Oops sorry for that!
    And I completely agree with you. Will’s character was totally realistic.. hard to cope up with sometime and sometime loving one.

    And also Lucy was such a lovable character though she herself was not present there. Julie Murphy has seriously done an incredible job with the characters representation.

    I am seriously hoping Puddin’ to match this level at least. Let’s hope for the best
    Sim @ Flipping Through the Pages recently posted…DUMPLIN’ by Julie Murphy | Adorkable with a quirky romance!My Profile

    1. I’m glad 🙂 if you ever want to do a buddy read and review it like this together with me, let’s look at the books we’ve both got! We could totally arrange this 🙂
      And OH YES, this book is definitely recommended 🙂 I’m super excited for the sequel that’s coming out too…

  2. Like I said on Sim’s post, I love the buddy read format! I’m 100% for you using the format more 🙂 This wasn’t a book I’d considered picking up, but both of your reviews changed my mind. It sounds like a really positive read!
    JJ @ This Dark Material recently posted…film review: blameMy Profile

    1. Yeah, it’s so much fun, isn’t it 🙂 I am roughly aiming for one buddy read post per month for sure, and we have similar tastes, so when I’m done with the next two months (already booked up!) we could pick a buddy read and do this 🙂 if you’re up to this, you can message me somewhere 🙂

  3. I love the fact that there are more and more much needed body-positive books! This one sounds so great.

  4. Happy New Year! What a great motivational book to get things started for 2018. Gotta grab it! Hugs…RO

  5. I just hopped over from the buddy review of this one! I haven’t read it yet but I have seen this one around a lot online so I do intend to read it. I am glad you were able to like this one so much! I’m a very very big hater of books which have the absent YA parents trope – it gets on my nerves so much. I know you said it redeems itself but a little angry cloud formed in my mind, haha. I do like the sound of the secondary characters being done and developed so well though – that’s especially what I love to see in my books. So I think I will still be giving this one a go 🙂
    Olivia Roach recently posted…18 Goals for 2018!My Profile

    1. I really did like this one, I’m sure you’d like it too, and I’m curious how you’d answer the same questions 🙂 this wasn’t the worst case of an absent parent though, it sort of gets better by the end. I truly do think you should give this one a go 🙂

  6. I WISH I could try buddy reading but I’m afraid I’d be a disastrous buddy 🙂 IT DOES sound fun! So fat people and romance. I think romantic “patheticness” is linked to all kinda insecurities and it can reach unexpected levels. Definitely not something fun to read about [or watch!] and another YA absent parent. UGH. I’m not sure this book is for me but I’m glad you enjoy it at a 4-star level
    Daniela Ark recently posted…Do you have what it takes to tame the TBR beast?My Profile

    1. Hahaha 😀 why do you think you’d be a disastrous buddy? 😀 I don’t know, I didn’t mind the romance at all, it was just kind of low key. And everyone has romance insecurities! I loved this book 🙂

  7. Great feature, Evelina! Buddy reads are always fun and it’s nice that you get to explore the book together with someone else 🙂 I’m always on the fence with these so-called “body positive” books as some of them do a lot more harm than good, and are often not at all as they are advertised, but I’m open to suggestions and might even give this one a shot 🙂
    Lovely post!

    1. Well, I am not a fat girl, so I can’t comment from that point of view. But I have felt bad about my body, so in those terms, I could relate to the book a lot 🙂 I wonder what you’d think of it? Any book that deals with these things, these stereotypes, can be seen both ways, so I wonder what you’d think about it 🙂

  8. I haven’t yet tried buddy reading, especially with a fellow book blogger, but I guess I’ll have to do it after reading this post. Loved all the questions Simant asked (she’s such a cool person, btw) and the detailed, honest answers you gave make me wanna read this book so much! There are so many good things about this, I mean, a fat girl protagonist is already an amazing thing about it but a great supporting cast makes it all the more wonderful. Not wasting a minute and adding this to my TBR, haha! 😀
    Fanna recently posted…The Vanishing Spark Of Dusk by Sara Baysinger [ARC]My Profile

    1. Yes, I definitely recommend trying buddy reads, they’re loads of fun 🙂 we could even arrange a post like this on my blog and your blog, except I don’t know when cause I have already several buddy reads agreed 😀 up to march, I think…

      And I’m sure you’d love Dumplin’! It’s a great book. I wonder what you’d think of the rep? You usually take real good care about the diversity stuff, so I’m really curious.

    1. Will you be doing any joint kind of review? 🙂 and nope, I don’t think I’ve heard of that one, but that will be fixed after I eventually read your review of it 😀
      Dumplin’ is very recommended as well 🙂

  9. I haven’t read Dumplin’, but I had heard of it–not much, though. This was the first proper review I’d read for it, and it was quite lovely! I’d read it given the opportunity, though I probably wouldn’t go after the sequel. I’m rarely into sequels. Just kind weird like that, I suppose.
    Chauncey Rogers recently posted…Dementors, Cough Drops, and a Book UpdateMy Profile

    1. Nice, and thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed my review 🙂 it’s actually not a full-fledged sequel though, it makes two secondary characters into main ones! So that’s more of a spin-off, I guess 🙂

  10. I read Dumplin last year and it was a good book. I loved that it brought to the spotlight a character who on TV and films is the one who is brushed to the side. It was brilliant and body positive and wasn’t about a fat girl losing weight or changing who she was but instead about a girl learning to love who she was and accept herself. I loved that because there needs to be greater diversity in fiction and I know teen girls will love being able to see someone they can relate to in books. I found it to be a great teen read and I am very excited for Puddin (although I’ve not read what it’s about or anything).
    Becky @ A Fool’s Ingenuity recently posted…Five Reasons To… Read The City of BrassMy Profile

    1. Yeah 🙂 that’s what I also liked about it. And it was so relatable too! Like, you don’t have to be fat to relate to Will – everyone can relate to her because of the feelings she feels. I loved that. Not every book makes it so accessible.

      I’m also super excited about Puddin’ 🙂

  11. Yay another buddy read! I know you don’t read a ton of YA, but I’m so glad to see that you read Dumplin!!! I listened to the audiobook in mid 2017 and loved it, as I bet you recall. It was the perfect feel good book for where I was at the time.

    I am completely with you about the realistic nature of Willowdean and her relationships. She’s second guessing everything she has been taught about herself and boys, as well as what she believes about herself and boys. It’s a complicated time! I can totally relate to the awkward relationship-esque situations she ends up in. And how she interacts with her friends?! 16-year-old Jackie was totally that selfish and had NO IDEA. Looking back, I’m a bit embarrassed about how I acted, but Hakuna Matata, right?!

    You have so many positive things to say about this book, and yet you only gave it four stars. Can you speak a bit to why you removed a star? I’m curious.
    Jackie B. recently posted…Building Better Book Clubs: An Insider GlanceMy Profile

    1. Oh yeah, I was definitely gonna read Dumplin’, especially because I know you liked it so much. I liked it too, and I think it was realistic – I was also a selfish teen. Most of us are for sure, even if some remember it in a more rosy light than you and me 😀 and I didn’t remove a star… it was a great book, but it didn’t blow my mind or give me crazy emotions 😀 I usually only give 5 stars when the book gives me fireworks and butterflies and sprinkles and glitters and musical notes xD basically. Lol

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