YA Book Review: Dumplin’
Julie Murphy’s Willowdean is here to remind us all to embrace our inner Dolly Parton — and start living.
Dumplin’, by rising YA author Julie Murphy, is a delightful story about a young girl from West Texas named Willowdean, who shares her experience finding that inner confidence and loving who you are — -no matter what shape, size or what you look like. (Take THAT, Kim Kardashian!)
What’s so charming about Willowdean is her self-awareness about life and how she doesn’t let body-image consume her with anxiety, self-loathing behaviors or push her into wallflower status.
On the contrary, Ms. Willowdean embraces her inner Dolly Parton and finds a way to make it work to her advantage. (No spoilers from me!)
“I’ve wasted a lot of time in my life. I’ve thought too much about what people will say or what they’re gonna think….there have been times when I really stopped myself from doing something special. All because I was scared someone might look at me and decide I wasn’t good enough. But you don’t have to bother with that nonsense. I wasted all that time so you don’t have to.” ― Julie Murphy, Dumplin’
She’s happy and confident despite society’s constant attempts to marginalize women who don’t conform to society’s (or grocery store tabloids), expectations — a lesson that is equally important for young boys as it is to young girls.
Embrace Your Inner Dolly
It will only take you a few chapters of Murphy’s delightfully sassy and charming storytelling to realize that we all have a little bit of Willowdean in us. In short, we all have challenges in life to overcome.
We will never like how we look in a swimsuit. We all have unrequited crushes, disappointments and moments when life doesn’t go the way we planned.
Dumplin’ is a reminder to embrace our inner Dolly and Willowdean and go after the things we want out of life. Put on that swimsuit. Go after that crush. Go be a contestant in that beauty pageant. Anything but sitting on the sidelines, waiting for things to just happen.
“I think you gotta be who you want to be until you feel like you are whoever it is you’re trying to become. Sometimes half of doing something is pretending that you can.” ― Julie Murphy, Dumplin’
Dumplin’ Will Steal Your Heart
Murphy’s writing shows a deep understanding of creating characters and a stories that readers will care deeply about. Anyone who picks up this book, but most especially teen readers, will relate to Willowdean’s insecurities and use it as a map to learn how to get past their own.
“I get called a freak every day. I might as well make a show of it.” -Julie Murphy, Dumplin’
This charming novel has a big dose of West Texas culture, a deep appreciation of the master storyteller Dolly Parton, and a wildly unforgettable heroine — Dumplin’ is a stunning debut novel.
Watch, Dumplin’ on Netflix
On September 12th it was announced that Netflix had acquired the rights to Dumplin’ and cast Jennifer Aniston with Patti Cakes$ star Danielle Macdonald in the lead roles.
And as a nod to your inner Willowdean, you’ll be happy to know that Dolly Parton has released an updated version of “Here I Am,” a reworking of her 1971 song, as a duet with Sia on the official film soundtrack.
No release date for the film has been set.
📕 Dumplin’ is now available on Amazon |Age Range: 11 to 17 | Lexile Measure: 710L