It is a companion novel to Dumplin’, which follows supporting characters from the first book in the months after Willowdean’s star turn in the Clover City pageant.
Millie Michalchuk has gone to fat camp every year since she was a girl. Not this year. This year she has new plans to chase her secret dream—and to kiss her crush. Callie Reyes is the pretty girl who is next in line for dance team captain and has the popular boyfriend. But when it comes to other girls, she’s more frenemy than friend. When circumstances bring the girls together over the course of a semester, they will surprise everyone (especially themselves) by realizing they might have more in common than they ever imagined.
I’m a super fan of Julie Murphy so if you think this is gonna be negative, move on.
I think in today’s society, the body positivity movement is taking ground and running for all it’s worth. As it should. As someone who grew up thinking that I NEEDED to be skinny to be beautiful, books like these, where the main character isn’t your run of the mill pretty, thin, blond girl is so inspiring. It’s what I needed growing up and still as a 32 year old woman need now. So if I need this, I know a 13, 14, and 15 year old need this too.
Julie Murphy is a hero to me. She writes characters that we all knew but focuses on the ones that may typically go overlooked or just get a mention in other books. In Puddin’, she nails it again. Millie is your average high school girl. She’s not popular, but she listens to her parents, has a best friend, and does her homework. She is your typical all American girl. She’s fat too. And Murphy’s writing gives the character ownership of that word. Fat. It’s not a bad word. And for those of you raising your eyebrows up, thinking, “NO, fat is definitely a bad word”, hear me out. We follow Millie and her journey of fighting for herself in this book. She fights her mom on going to fat camp, being teased by the popular kids, and also wondering if the guy she likes could ever like someone like her. But fat, as Murphy says in her book, is a descriptive word that only became negative because of society. Society that tells everyone what they should look like, what the next best diet is, what clothes to wear, etc, you get the idea. Fat is a noun. Until society decided it was bad, so it became an adjective.
What makes this interesting and once I got into it, I mean I couldn’t stop reading, is the antagonist is a girl on the dance team, who can’t figure her life out either. She is so focused on what others want for her that she can’t see passed the choreography until she has no choice. I honestly didn’t like Callie in the beginning and wanted so badly to skip the parts with her in it..which would’ve been dumb since the chapters rotate POV. But she is such a spoiled little brat that I was over her crap. But the story comes together. And I actually liked Callie a lot. I love when authors show the growth of a character gradually. And let me tell you, this was G R A D U A L. But it was worth the wait.
I also need to make mention of the parent involvement. Thank you, Julie Murphy. I always am suspicious when books about teens or pre-teens have NO parental involvement. But the books she writes tend to lean toward a lot of parental concern and involvement. Millie’s mom, definitely a smotherer but it’s just real. It’s a real mom-daughter relationship that you just know is based off something or seen somewhere. I mean diet culture is REAL. Millie and her mom’s relationship revolves around diets and movies. So, once Millie realizes she doesn’t need to diet to be beautiful and loved, she breaks her mom’s heart. But, as a mom, that’s what you want for your daughter. To know that no matter how big, small, tall, or whatever she is, she will always be loved and accepted. I know that’s what I want for my daughters. And it’s taken me a long ass time to understand and accept but, in order for my daughters to love themselves, I need to love myself and show them that you don’t have to be a size 2, to be beautiful.
In realising that she is more than just the fat on her body, she owns her life. She stands up for herself and her dreams. Millie is a force, just like Willowdean was in Dumplin’.
And spoiler alert,
She gets the guy. Because some people can look passed the amount of fat on you and accept and love you for who you are.
I highly recommend this book! And any book written by the ever fabulous, Julie Murphy. I think that middle school and high school aged students could definitely benefit from this book and also, Dumplin’. Adult book clubs and basically anyone who needs some body positivity in their life.
If Dumplin’ was about coming to terms with your own body, Puddin’ is about demanding that the world do the same. I wrote this book for all the fat kids who have waited too damn long for the world to accept them. Stop waiting. The revolution starts with and belongs to you. (Found in acknowledgements)
And why is everyone always trying to take money away from libraries? Aren’t books sort of the reason we’re even in school at all? (p.419)
“Girls don’t have to be nice,” she says simply. “But they should stick together.” She shakes her head. “The wider world wants you to think other women are drama . . . or catty. But that’s just because when we work together, we’re unstoppable.” (p. 287)
If you’d like to check out my Dumplin’ review, click here!
If you’d like to check out my Ramona Blue review, click here!