Dumplin' - Julie Murphy

Review for the ARC.

I was really looking forward to this book, there is a lot of hype all over the internet for this book, from posts on twitter of people re-enacting the pose, to buttons and other stuff. It is quite overwhelming and I was so excited. But was the book good in the end? Yes, and no. What I expected was a self-proclaimed fat girl who after finding a guy she really likes gets a bit scared and enters a pageant, because she wants to show the world how awesome she is. A lot of this is there, but sadly there is a love triangle, the pageant is a joke (the main character doesn't even treat it seriously until it is there), the girl herself had mood swings as big as a whale or 10 and let's not talk about the mother.

I was really looking forward to meeting Willowdean, she sounded like an epic girl who knew what she wanted, who didn't care about her body and was satisfied with it. She has a big mouth and I quite liked that she was just able to defend herself (and others) when needed. However, I also saw a girl who clearly was unsure of stuff, can't choose, was a bitch to her mom (yes, her mom not that nice or subtle at times, but no need to bore that woman in the ground). I saw a girl who clearly judges others on how they look, even thinking that they could use some improvements and then they would be fine. But, oh, oh, if someone says something about her weight, oh no, don't you dare. It was just a bit too silly and it quite took down the character for me. Judging others, but others have to be fine with your body? That is not how it works, not at all. You can't just go yes to you and no to the world. Maybe she tried to help them, maybe she didn't mean it harsh, but sorry, I felt it was just too much.
I hated her for how she treated Bo, how she treated that other guy. Leaving them both dangling and not deciding until one of the guys does it for her. Love triangles can be fun, but it was just fucked up in this one. It was just rotten and I just wanted to smack Willowdean and how she treated them both. They are not candy girl, you need to pick one. You can't just go from one to the other and then expect them all to be perfectly happy and dandy about it. That is not how it works.
I also got tired of her behaviour towards her best friend. At times I wondered how these 2 were friends. Willowdean was constantly comparing herself to her friend, constantly downgrading herself. And then that big fight that was for no fucking reason at all. Absolutely nothing, just because Willowdean wanted something for herself, and oh no her best friend thought to support her by entering, oh no, oh no, that is so no good at all of course. *rolls eyes so hard they fall out* A fight that kept on going on and on and on and on. Sorry, these are friends? *snort*No.

I was so looking forward to the pageant stuff, and while there is stuff, mostly about her mom claiming most of the house with stuff or people, the actual pageant was quite a disappointment. Willowdean doesn't even take it serious, not until later. Why enter, if you don't fucking care about anything at all? Why would you do that, to prove a point? A point that is quite lost now?

Willowdean herself had mood swings and I can imagine she has those, but after a while I had no clue what girl I had in front of me on the pages. Was it the nice Willowdean, empowered Willowdean, angry Willowdean or maybe the everything sucks in my life Willowdean? In the end I even got annoyed with her constant switching of moods and thoughts.

Then we have the mom. At times I liked her and at other times not. There were also times that I was sorry for her. While she pushed Willowdean a lot, she also meant well. She just wanted to protect her daughter and help her out. She herself was fat back in the day and she was very unhappy. And I think that she can also see that Willowdean isn't always happy with her body. And sure, there are better ways to help your kid, but from what I hear she tried a lot, and I can imagine that she just doesn't know what to do now.
Willowdean's mother didn't deserve her daughter's hateful words or angry fights. Again, I can imagine that it might be hurtful to Willowdean, but I wish she could also see her mom is just trying her best.
On the whole getting rid of stuff from the aunt? I can see why the mom is doing that. I can imagine it must be hard to lose someone you love, and finding out that people are moving on, but that, my dear Willowdean, is life. Some people move on by way of cleaning, others by keeping a shrine, you will have to find a middle ground, and not by continually harassing your mother and accuse her of being mean and that she didn't love her sister and other stuff. That is just plain bitchy.

There are various other characters and they were all pretty hit and miss. That new friend of Willowdean's best friend? I disliked her sooooo much.

The story itself was pretty decent in the first part, but around the middle I just got bored and I wanted it to be over, then by the end it perked up again, but with that ending, sorry.. no.

Now comes the last question, would I recommend this book? No. It is as easy as that. If you don't mind a character with mood swings as big as 10 or more whales, if you don't mind a love triangle that sucks, if you don't mind an open ending, then try this out. Otherwise I can assure you there are other books about pageants or about fat girls and their lives.

Review first posted at http://twirlingbookprincess.com/