New YA Fiction: Dumplin’ – Julie Murphy

I’m very seldom a trailblazing reader on the kids side of our list. But I pay attention to the movers and shakers among my colleagues—and I follow bookseller reactions like a hawk. I don’t often this kind of enthusiasm for a YA novel across so many constituencies—Indie reps, chain reps, mass merch reps, literary readers, commercial readers… you name it, people love this book.

It’s an in-your-face, feel good story with some of the same kind of plain-spoken, insightful truth-telling that makes Rainbow Rowell so beloved. Our hero, Willowdean Dickson, is a big girl who is ok with her life. She’s ok with her size, with mother (an ex-beauty queen who runs pageants), ok with life in general…until a cute, nice jock she works with gives her a kiss.

In a PW interview, editor Alessandra Balzer comments: “The fact that what shakes her confidence is that this really hot guy is interested in her was so interesting. That’s not the way these stories usually go.”

That’s the pleasure of this novel. It’s not about a big girl changing her body in hopes that it will change her life. It’s about a smart girl whose struggles are about understanding what will make her happy.

 I’m glad to say this is an Autumn Indie Next pick. And got two starred reviews from the advance journals. You probably won’t be surprised that it’s already been snapped up for the movies. 🙂

Willowdean Dickson’s mother—a former [beauty queen]…has a hard time with the reality that Willowdean, a self-described ‘fat girl,’ will never be a beauty queen. Willowdean is okay with her size, mostly…An unexpected kiss with Bo, her handsome fast-food restaurant coworker, is thrilling, but she’s also horrified at the idea of him touching her anywhere there is extra flesh. And that very reaction horrifies her, too; she thought she was at peace with herself. Murphy successfully makes every piece of the story—Dolly Parton superfans, first love, best-friend problems, an unlikely group of pageant entrants, female solidarity, self-acceptance, and Willowdean’s complicated relationship with the mother who nicknamed her “Dumplin’ ”—count, weaving them together to create a harmonious, humorous, and thought-provoking whole.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Will’s singular voice compels readers to think about all that goes into building-and destroying-self-esteem…Splendid.”
— Booklist (starred review)

“Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’, the story of the incomparable Willowdean Dickson and her quest to enter and win the Miss Clover City beauty pageant, has a heart as big as the Texas sky. This is the book I wish I could go back in time and give to my teenaged self. If you are a person with a body, you need to read this book.”
— Stephanie Appell, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN

“Dear God this book is side splittingly, wet your pants, laugh out loud hilarious! Willowdean has a bigger personality than her wide, proud, curvy hips. The perfect emulsion of sass, humor, self-proclaimed super stardom, and Dolly Parton. LOVED IT!”
–Angelo Santini, McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, MI

Dumplin’ (9780062327185) by Julie Murphy. $17.99 hardcover. 9/15/15 on sale.

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