Sunday, September 20, 2015

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy... MY FAVOURITE READ OF 2015!

Publish date- September 16th, 2015.
Publisher- Penguin Random House.
RRP- $17.99 (AUD)


Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
Willowdean is a self confessed fat girl and Dolly Parton fan. She may let her love for Dolly work at defining her, but her weight? It's a non issue, and she doesn't mind making sure everyone knows. Until she starts to fall for someone, and all her insecurities come to the surface. So she enters a pagent. Obviously she's going to rock it.

Thank you to Penguin for this review copy!
Image source: Penguin Books Australia.




What I thought:
Dumplin'. Oh, Dumplin'. Recently I commented that a review for my favourite book of the year was upcoming, and here it is. Dumplin' sets high stakes for the future of contempoary novels I'll read, and high stakes for the rest of the year.

Dumplin' tells the story of Willowdean, a girl who is brave, insecure, fierce, scared and not afraid to say what she thinks or let others define her by her weight. She is a character I stood alongside with complete joy and love, through good and bad. The development of her character was so strong, from this fierce, I won't hold for your shit character, to a girl who hated herself for becoming insecure and the things she wished she were not. And her honesty during all of it, the way she acted so that others didn't realise anything was differet, the way she forced herself to make it a non-issue rather than finding a way to address it, it was powerfully done. It resonated with me.

Now, Will isn't all good. She says some horrible things, doesn't forgive because she wasn't in the wrong and probably doesn't look at her actions as critically as the actions of others. But there's just something about her that had me only giving her a vague side eye, because I supported her all the way without ever realising it.

I did think with a yelp of joy that here would be a relationship, with Bo and Will, where the issues wouldn't brew, would be talked about before they could, and that wasn't, unfortunately, the case. The case was that drama could've been avoided. But eh. Anyone got the fact I love Will yet? (Also, there's a, ahm, love triangle? I didn't struggle with it, with the choice, and it was done kinda fantastically.)

The Dolly Parton night scene, btw? And all scenes involving those characters- drag queens, a bar owner in a I think relationship with one and a history with Will's dead aunt, those scenes? They were gorgeous. As was the friendship between Will, Hannah, Millie and Amanda, who band together because they aren't the "beauty standard" but they enter the pagent anyway. (There is also sexual diversity in there and it's done in a way that is so sodding better than lesbian best friend.) Will's mother, however, was... awful, a lot of the time. The kind of person who would tell her daughter that a diet would make her happy (as would a man! Yay!), but I loved Will for standing up to her and for herself. And for introducing me to Jolene by Ms. Dolly Parton.

Rating: Big explosion MIND BLOWN. FAVOURITE READ OF 2015!
This book is complex and hard hitting and I needed it when I was younger but I also needed it right now. It's about more than a "fat girl entering a pagent" and more than falling in love desperately. And I'm so incredibly thankful for that. For the fact it takes honesty and hard words and friendships that slide apart and not necessarily back together and the fact that being fierce is wonderful but so is being vulnerable and sucker punches it to you.

25 comments:

  1. Oh, wow. So I have only read one other review for this book and it was not so great, but yours is all FLAILING, and now I have no idea if I want to read this book, or not. I love the fact that it's about a girl who is fat, because all the YA heroines are always stick then (and then complain about it and I just CANNOT AT ALL). There is so much diversity in the body shape of teenagers, so when every main character looks the same, it's quite terrible. I know that when I was a teenager reading YA, I lamented the fact that I only ever read about teeny tiny characters, and not characters who were just average, or a little chubby, or even a lot chubby. So I certainly give kudos for that.

    I'm just not sure if this is the kind of story for me, though. And I can't really put my finger on why (yay for indecision and not making sense). I DO have a copy of this, so there is a chance I might pick it up one day.

    But I am so glad you loved it so much, and the fact that it's your favourite of 2015 certainly influences me!

    Lovely review, dearie <3

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    1. P.S. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE listen to Samuel's (from The Glee Project) cover of Jolene because it's the most perfect thing in history <3 (Okay here is the link anyway: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDcbMyL6g7M)

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    2. Aah, I get that, don't worry. Sometimes I read a review where the blogger is incredibly passionate about the story/novel/whole thing, but another points out things that I know I wouldn't be happy with. I'm not sure what I'd have made of this if I'd read a big range of reviews befoe really knowing what it was about- with some of the elements I imagine I would have thought it'd not be for me. But it was! It so totally was for me. AND YES. Having a character who ralies against the perception others have about weight, of being proud of herself for WHO she was and not being held back... that was absolutely fantastic. And then her insecurity, too, was so well done.
      I really hope you'll give it a go, at least, Chiara, because it's brilliant!

      I couldn't find an official version of it on Spotify or anything... ): Not sure if anyone could one up Dolly on it for me, though! That song's really special to me, now, and her singing of it... it's one of a kind. But YAY (in capitals, no less) for Jolene! xx

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  2. I'm so glad you liked this, Romi! I've been wanting to read it for a while now, and I keep hearing good things, which is a good omen. Also, I love this sentence: This book is complex and hard hitting and I needed it when I was younger but I also needed it right now.

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    1. Yay! I more than liked it, seriously. It was fantastic in so many ways. I really hope you get the chance to read it soon, Vlora, because it is just... hard hitting. And beautiful. AND YOU QUOTED ME. Be still my heart. xx

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  3. Seriously. I need to read this book! So much love. So much love.

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    1. So. Much. Love.

      (You totally do.) xx

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  4. So many friends love this one and I'm kinda curious - especially since this story tackles perceptions around the body so I'll definitely have to pick it up! I'm also really happy you've found a new book to love! I miss that feeling of just sighing over how fantastic and right a book feels for you.

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    1. I'm glad to hear you've been hearing lots about it, Glaiza! It's one I'm very passionate about and I can say for certain I'm going to be *kindly* pushing it at people for a good while. I'm really glad you're already planning to pick it up! We must talk over it when you've read it.
      Yes! It happens so rarely, but is beautiful when it does. xx

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  5. I so agree with your review, Romi! This book is really more than about being comfortable in your own skin and weight - it's about being comfortable with the things you're uncomfortable with, about all the insecurities of any kind, and overcoming them with a smile. 2015 is the year of contemporary, I tell you. This one is one of my faves too!!

    Faye at The Social Potato

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    1. Your own review was stunning, Faye. I was so moved by it. And your comment describes elements of it SO WELL. You aced this one, for sure.
      And it's about overcoming them in a way that is true to yourself, and not anyone else. xx

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  6. I have seen SO many good things about this book so of course, it was already on my TBR. Your review just happens to make me all the more excited. What I really like about the main character is that she seems to be comfortable with who she is and not insecure like most of them that we see in these kind of novels - and from interviews I have read I gather this has something to do with the author. I am looking forward to seeing how Willow gets through the trials life is going to throw at her!

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    1. Yay! I'm really happy to hear that, Olivia. To be honest, I haven't seen that many reviews of it, or most were posted before I read it, so I haven't read that many.
      Interestingly, it is painted like that, and to begin with Will IS secure and comfortable with herself. But gradually she becomes insecure and fights with herself to overcome her insecurity. It is done so, so well. Hope you love this! xx

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  7. What a beautiful review, Romi! I am so glad this book exists and I haven't even read it yet - mainly because I can see how positive and empowering it is for women of all shapes to see a heroine as strong as Willowdean! I really need to pick this one up sometimes this week to make it in time for a twitter bookclub haha. I am so glad you got to enjoy a book so much! Your enthusiasm is totally infectious.

    Aentee at Read at Midnight

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    1. Aah! Thank you *so* much, Aentee- I'm really glad to hear my enthusiasm was infectious, and I hope you got to this in time for your bookclub! I also hope you were affected nearly as much as I was by it- I'll definitely keep my eyes peeled out for a review on your blog to see how your read went. It is just such a fantastic book, and one I'm so passionate about. AAH. I loved it. xx

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  8. I've heard this book is amazing, and really want to read it, but so happy to read your review and know that you loved it this much Romi! It makes me even more excited for it! It's already wonderful for being so different and embracing different lifestyles, but the fact that it is done well too is heartening. I'm glad this was the best read of the year so far - it seems like it fully deserves that!

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    1. It IS amazing! I'm really, really hoping you'll love it, Charlene, and I'm glad my review was able to show you how much I loved it and (hopefully) get you that bit more excited and eager to read it for yourself!
      I agree. It was disheartening to see Willow's mother being so against her- happiness comes in slimness, kind of comment- but it was honest. It was such an honest portrayl. xx

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  9. I sometimes have a hard time with protagonists like this, although I do live how real she seems and how comfortable she is in her skin, which is an extremely important message. But I read the author's other novel and really disliked it because of the MC and this one reminds me of that. But I still want to try it though, who knows! The rest sounds fantastic and it must be good if you loved it!

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    1. Contempoary generally isn't the best for me, so I kind of understand that. And Will is a hard, vocal kind of character. She holds no shits for anyone's opinions (other than, you know, the people she loves and cares about). It defintely has a hugely important message, and is just so brilliant. Aww, no! I was considering whether I should read it, since I love this one so much, but at the same time it doesn't really interest me, synopsis-wise, so maybe I should pass. xx

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  10. Oh wow, you've really got me interested now. I have seen this around a little, but not a lot, and I think the first review I read was a negative one, so I was unsure about this one, but you've convinced me. This sounds awesome.

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    1. Ye-hey! My job is done, then. Ooh, yeah. I haven't actually read THAT many reviews, but reading a negative one first, it can make it easy to think "eh, not my kind of thing". I can be just the same. I'm thrilled I was able to convince you, though, Rochelle! I hope you adore it. xx

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  11. The fact that this is your favorite read of the year is impressive. Joline is an amazing song. In fact... I think it is the only one of Dolly's that I like. Her kind of music just isn't for me. I want to go and listen to it right now!

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    1. I finished it and was just like "That is an all time favourite" and I hadn't felt that in SO LONG. So it was doubly brilliant, I have to say.
      Isn't it just? I don't know any, really, other Dolly Parton songs, although I imagine now I'll try a couple more, but Joline. It just gets me.
      xx

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  12. I've heard such good things about this book and I really wanna get my hands on it but my hands are so full with other things. D: Still, I'm glad to hear that so many people are taking delight in this book, and I look forward to getting it someday myself!

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    1. We readers often have a lot to get through- I really hope you'll read it at some point, though, Heather, because it's delightful. It's just so fantastic. xx

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