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!

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3 years ago

I need to get my hands on this one!!

Sim @ Flipping Through the Pages

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

Aimee (Aimee, Always)
3 years ago

I find it so cute and awesome how you guys made a review out of each others’ questions! <3 And the way you described the love interest definitely has me hooked! I am ALL on board for not-broody, not-assholey heroes! <3 The mother-daughter relationship sounds pretty realistic, too!

JJ @ This Dark Material

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

I most definitely am and will! 🙂

3 years ago

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

Laura Thomas
3 years ago

What a fabulous idea for a buddy read. I keep meaning to try this book too. This post makes me want to even more:)

3 years ago

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

Olivia Roach
3 years ago

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… Read more »

Daniela Ark
3 years ago

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

Sophie @ Blame Chocolate

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!

3 years ago

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! 😀

Lara @ Words With Lara

I haven’t read this one but I will definitely have to check it out, it sounds pretty good! Also you’re right, buddy reading is the best!! Me and Ella (from A Bookish Time) are currently buddy reading Wild Beauty and it’s sooooooo good!!!! You must read it if you haven’t!

Chauncey Rogers
3 years ago

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
3 years ago

Oh, okay. Interesting!

Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

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… Read more »

Vani | Off-Color Lit
3 years ago

This is SO very cool! I’ve never done a buddy read. I love this post!

I’ve been meaning to get to Dumplin’ for a long time and still haven’t!

Jackie B.
3 years ago

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… Read more »