Wednesday, December 30, 2015

"This is What it Feels Like When Your Life Starts Happening" - DUMPLIN' by Julie Murphy - A Review



RELEASE DATE: September 15th, 2015

FORMAT/PAGE COUNT: Kindle/384 pages

PUBLISHER: Balzar & Bray



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.

EXPECTATION: The cover. Nuff said! It just sounded like an adorable story I would love. 

This ended up being one of those books I highlight the bejesus out of. I just loved the writing in this story. Julie Murphy's style is delightful. If there was a TICKLED ME PINK category for Best Novels of 2015, this one would win it hands down. 

Okay, so THIS is one of the highlighted bits I saved to delight over. THIS totally captures the attitude of Dumplin' and the perfected style in which this novel was written:

'I don't sigh. I want to, but my mom will hear. It doesn't matter how loud the TV is. It could be two years from now and I could be away at college in some other town, hundreds of miles away, and my mom would hear me sigh all the way from home and call me to say, "Now, Dumplin', you know I hate when you sigh. There is nothing less attractive than a discontent young woman."'

That is just gold! I just felt that there were so many quotable lines in this book. I loved it. 'My first kiss. It's the fastest thing that lasts forever.' Lines like that. Murphy just nails what you have always thought about a thing. And, one of my faves... "Well, aren't you just having a come apart?" I found myself wanting to use her lines...hoping they'd become catch phrases. :-) "Sometimes half of doing something is pretending that you can."

Such gorgeous lines. I know, I know...a book is more than the sum of its most gorgeous lines. ultimate favourite from DUMPLIN'? I must share it...

'I want to always look at it, hanging in my closet, and remember this night in November when I stepped into my own light.'

God, I loved that line. I stopped dead in my tracks when I read that line.

Is this a review? Not really. I'm so bad at reviews when I love a book to bits.

Willowdean was a delightful character. She took on entering the beauty pageant her mother ran as a way of saying she's unwilling to accept that only perfect 10s can be a part of that world. But she also took it on as a bit of a lark. I loved her defiance and I loved that there were girls who accompanied her into this foray into the land of the beautiful and flawless. I loved the message that put out there. It was almost like a take-back protest by the inhabitants of the Island of Misfit Toys, a sly little 'we're not gonna take it anymore' from the school outcasts.

The fact that Willowdean's rebellion was steeped in Dolly Parton made it all the more lovely, really. I even loved the awkward secretive and then not so secretive love interest in Bo. That character was so well played. There's not much I did not like about this book. Every time I prepared to pick it up again, I found myself excited to discover the next highlight-able nugget.

Rounding out the story was Willowdean's relationship with her mother. SO well played. It hurt sometimes to see how raw her oblivious mother left her. But Willow always seemed capable of the bounce back...which is another thing I liked. She was strong, and at times unfazed by things that might cripple a weaker person. Her other reason for taking on the pageant, her recently dearly departed aunt, was just a lovely thing. Willowdean Dickson is a REAL person. So strong and so vulnerable. I loved her voice.

Do yourself a favour and read this feel-good story. I dare say, it tickled me pink. :-)


Find JULIE MURPHY online at her WEBSITE, on Twitter, and, on Instagram.