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!