Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Title: Dumplin'
Author: Julie Murphy
Narrator(s): Eileen Stevens
Series: stand-alone
Length: 9 hrs 2 mins
Publisher: Harper Audio
Publication Date: September 15, 2015
Source: received from publisher via Edelweiss, purchased audio
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

Books set in Texas are my jam! Books set in Texas, written by Texas authors, and featuring Dolly Parton fanatics? Even better! I mean, seriously: "Go big or go home." Julie even mentioned Clay Dooley, a Ford dealership owner, as a pageant judge and I about died laughing. Because I'm assuming she's referencing Clay COOLEY, who owns about every type of car dealership imaginable in North Texas...except Ford. :P

I kind of loved this empowering little book about accepting yourself as you are. Maybe not as much as the rest of the blogging community, but I was definitely entertained. The thing is, I try not to hold fictional characters to standards that I myself cannot achieve, but it was hard with Willowdean. I think it was the whole fact that she didn't take the beauty pageant seriously that bugged me the most. I don't really buy into the beauty pageant thing either, but Will entered for all the wrong reasons. And then she has the nerve to tell her best friend -- the one who's supported her through thick and thin (no pun intended) -- that she shouldn't enter the pageant because she might actually win. What kind of friend does that?

I also didn't love the romantic elements, especially since there were two guys involved, but I did appreciate that she valued her dignity and ended things with one when the relationship got a little toxic. But rebounding with the sweetest mama's boy ever was the wrong choice. She was stringing him along, just like she had been, and that wasn't fair to either of them. But them's the breaks at that age...you live, you learn, you probably regret a little of it, but you (hopefully) come out a better person on the other side of things.

This book is funny. Especially Willowdean's personal brand of self-deprecating humor. But she also has this voice that commands your attention. You just have to take notice of her. But it's not just her. All the girls who enter the pageant with her bring something special to the table. I just loved watching their weird little friendships grow.

I haven't listened to much narrated by Eileen Stevens, but I thought she was a pretty good choice to narrate Dumpin'. She lets a hint of Southern drawl into her narration, especially when Willowdean's mama is around, but it's not overly twangy. I promise, we don't all have that twang, though if you ever heard my sister-in-law speak, I daresay you wouldn't believe me. ;0)

What I like best about Julie Murphy's books is that she's not afraid to have her characters be human, to make mistakes, even when those same choices might make the characters unlikable. It's the same reason I really enjoyed Side Effects May Vary. Her characters resonate with me because they are real and genuine...they remind me of myself at that age. Bad judgment and all.

GIF it to me straight:


About the author:

Julie lives in North Texas with her husband who loves her, her dog who adores her, and her cat who tolerates her. When she's not writing or trying to catch stray cats, she works at an academic library. Side Effects May Vary is Julie's debut novel.

Find Julie:

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