Eloise Unerman reviews Dumplin' by Julie Murphy.

Posted 30 Aug 2019 by Writing Squad in Writing Squad Reviews

Dumplin book cover

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy is a young adult book about Willowdean Dickson, a self-proclaimed fat girl from Clover City, Texas. She’s always been at home in her own skin and her idea of having the ultimate bikini body is just putting a bikini on your body.

When new love leaves her doubting herself, she enters her local beauty pageant in an effort to take it back. The world of Dumplin’ is very important to me – both it and its sequel Puddin’ are sat on my shelves right now. I was hesitant to start reading at first. I had this fragile idea of who this girl should be and I was afraid that turning the page would ruin her. But I didn’t need to be.

I felt all the highs of Willowdean’s love life and all the lows of her relationship with her mum. But what struck me the most was something incredibly personal. She wasn’t the first plus size character I’d ever seen in a book or even the first well written one. But Murphy had perfectly pinpointed all the thoughts about being fat that I’d never spoken of, never read. And I think that’s what made Willowdean feel all the more real to me. She came along at a time when I was trying my best to have the same attitude towards my body as she did to her own. And, in an odd way, I was more than a little bit proud of her for accomplishing that.

Although Dumplin’ is a book about a girl in high school, I don’t think you need to be that age to enjoy her journey. I’d recommend this captivating book to anyone but especially those who have, at some point, felt uncomfortable in their own skin or had the sudden desire to enter a beauty pageant.

Inspired by Eloise's review? You can reserve Dumplin' from your library online for free. Or download the ebook or audiobook from your library or have a good ole Dumplin' party and watch the new film on Netflix! 


This month's Writing Squad guest reviewer is Eloise Unerman. Eloise is based in South Yorkshire and writes poetry and short stories, plus she runs poetry workshops for adults and young people.

She was awarded the Cuckoo Young Writers Award 2017 in the Northern Writers Awards and was Young Poet in Residence at 2018’s Ledbury Poetry Festival.

She is currently Barnsley’s Poet Laureate. When not writing, you can find her learning ballet and modern dance, sketching or adding to her scarf collection.  You'll also find Eloise on Twitter @inkandamaranth

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