September Book Discussion: Dumplin’


Hello, hello, and welcome to the September book discussion! For this edition, I brought in one of my very best friends and one of the most intelligent people I know, Alex Luterbach. Several notes:

  • The sound is, once again, not fantastic. I am still working on figuring out another way to record these conversations.
  • There are two (gasp!) swears, including an f-bomb. So be aware of that if you are listening at work or around children.
  • If you are interested in doing one of these book chats with me in the future, let me know!
  • When you leave a comment, make sure that you check the box to have a notification email sent to you when someone else comments on the post. That way, you can come back to the post to respond to other people’s thoughts. 🙂

Without further ado, our discussion about Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy.


Vote for October’s book selection here. I will announce the result Thursday morning.

September Book Discussion: Dumplin’

4 thoughts on “September Book Discussion: Dumplin’

  1. Jeri Wolf says:

    Once again, I enjoyed listening to the chat. Both of you had more positives to say about the book than I came up with. Unlike Alex, it took me way too long to read such a short book. It didn’t draw me in and make me care. I laughed out loud a couple of times but there wasn’t enough of this. At the beginning I thought it was going to be humorous, which would have helped draw me in if that had continued. Overall, the story just didn’t engage me fully.
    I enjoyed the girls, but thought all the guys were assholes. The girls were unique and reminiscent of high school outcasts. I liked that Willodean was (mostly) comfortable in her body. But I didn’t really feel a connection to any of the characters. By the end, I didn’t really care what happened to any of them. I just wanted it to end.
    I agree with Jessica that it felt like the author had a checklist that she was working through and that made parts of the book feel forced rather than contributing to the story.
    Overall review, average book. Average writing. Average characters.

    1. I, too, wish the book had been funnier!

      And the guys were definitely kind of jerks. I wasn’t a huge fan of any of them, actually. Like I said in the discussion, I would have been perfectly happy with Willowdean telling Bo to take a hike, haha.

      I definitely don’t think I will be reading the sequel. I just didn’t care enough either.

  2. Valerie says:

    I also very much enjoyed your chat. Jess, I believe that I always told you that you could be and do anything you wanted; I just sensed your passion for certain things and hoped you would follow that. As parents, it is very difficult to watch a child being ridiculed and bullied; it is never fair. We are a weak lot and some times just want our children to not be targets for any reason which might mean pushing them towards more conformity and away from those things that may cause them to be targeted. Sensible, fair? Perhaps not, but real nonetheless. Any way, to the book. When I picked it up at the library, Jeri commented that she did laugh out loud at some parts which I took for a good sign. I think I only laughed out loud once and now I can’t even remember the part. That being said, I did enjoy the book for the most part but it was very ‘surface.’ It just didn’t delve enough into any one thing. Lucy seemed a remarkable character but there was no real explanation into why she made the life choices she made. Willowdean’s Mom was pretty much the same thing. There was just not enough development of their ‘story’ which in turn left Willowdean’s story incomplete. And Bo, well never once did the author attempt to explain his attraction to Willowdean. The only thing I can really remember was that he liked talking to her. Nor Mitch’s for that fact. She happens to sit next to him in class, and ‘whammy’ – he’s infatuated. And I’m sorry, given their ages, physical attraction is a huge thing (don’t mind the pun) so Willowdean must have had some amazing physical qualities along with that type of personality that draws people to them but the author never got there with any of that. I still cannot picture Willowdean in my head – her hair colour, her skin tone, her eyes, her height – nothing, just that she was fat. Even that is fairly subjective. There are many ‘thin’ people out there who believe they are fat.
    Over all, it was a quick and entertaining enough read but didn’t engage me enough to want to read the sequel. Oh, and by the way, I say at the end, she agrees to date Bo. That is what the sigh was for. Just my take.

    1. I can absolutely understand that protective instinct. Already I wish I could keep my baby in a protective bubble so that nothing bad ever happens to her. I think all the time about all of the horrible things that she may go through in her life, many of them inflicted by other people’s ignorance and/or malice. I have been listening to a podcast about a mother raising a transgender daughter and all of the ways that she fears for her child that she wouldn’t, otherwise. I totally understand wanting to protect your child from everything. I think it will be one of the very hardest things about parenting: letting her go off into the world on her own, unprotected.

      I agree that the characters and everything were pretty surface. Not only was her relationship with Bo never delved into but he himself was never delved into. None of them were, really. Just Willowdean. I disagree, though, about needing to know what she looked like. I think it was fairly clear that she was, in fact, a fat person and not just a thin person who felt fat. And I also don’t think that Mitch and Bo’s attraction to her needed to be explained. How would the author have done that? I am trying to think of other novels where the attraction between two characters was explained in any other way besides, like, “I find him hot” and didn’t come off in a ridiculous way. I don’t need to hear a character say something like, “I am drawn to her humor and smarts” to believe that they are attracted to that person. It is more in how they act towards them.

      Anyway, I did wish that the book was funnier. I thought it was going to be, but alas, not so much. It was pretty wry but not a lot was directly humorous.

      Thanks for taking part in the discussion! I’m so glad that you do every month. 😀

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