Book Talk: Puddin’ by Julie Murphy

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Talk: Puddin’ by Julie MurphyPuddin' by Julie Murphy
Series: Dumplin' #2
Published by Balzer + Bray on May 8, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 448
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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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.

Before reading Puddin’, I decided to go back and reread Dumplin‘. Yes, I knew it was a companion not a direct sequel, but I didn’t remember anything about Dumplin‘ outside of the romance and the fact that there was a pageant. And, since this is about supporting characters, I thought it would be much more impactful if I knew who the hell they were. I’m not sure how necessary that is, but I think it is helpful. Also, I loved Dumplin’ like five times more the second time, so that was an amazing life choice any way you shake it.

Julie Murphy’s just so good at characters. In the Dumplin’ books, there have been three first person narratives: Willowdean in book one and now Millie and Callie. They all have powerful and unique narrative voices, and that’s not an easy thing to do well. I’m always so impressed with authors who pull off multiple first person POVs that actually sound distinct, because that shit is hard.

For me at least, Puddin’ was a slow starter. Willowdean is sassy and judgmental and so incredibly relatable to me, where Millie and Callie really are not. To be super clear, I’m not saying they’re bad characters, just that I didn’t click with them as quickly. However, around the halfway point, I got really invested and couldn’t put the book down and had a whole host of feelings.

Millie truly is the most hufflepuff-y character of all time. She’s such a sweet cinnamon roll, and she’s really too good for this world. Aside from lying to her over-protective, fat-shaming parents (well, mostly mom), Millie’s really the best kid ever. She’s friendly, motivated, hard-working, and also not a pushover. What’s cool is that Millie, for all her sweetness, really does stand up for herself and what’s right, except in the context of her family and her career goals. It’s really cool and realistic that she can be very strong in some contexts but unable to stand up to her mother.

Speaking of her mother, omg she annoyed me so much. It’s another good example of how parents can be loving and caring but do so in a very toxic way. Millie’s mom pushes her own issues onto Millie, constantly forcing Millie onto new fad diets and sending Millie to fat camp every year and trying to talk Millie out of her dreams because she doesn’t want Millie to get hurt. And Millie’s dad doesn’t agree but he doesn’t fight against this.

Callie’s a foil to Millie for most of the book, which is obviously about them finding common ground and becoming friends. Callie’s developed a hard shell around her, and she finds her own confidence through superiority and her social standing. When she loses her spot on the dance team and her boyfriend along with it, Callie no longer knows who she is, and she gets dragged reluctantly into being friends with Millie because Millie is an irrepressible force of kindness.

Both girls have romances, but I’m not massively invested in either. Both are very cute, though. Malik especially is precious and awkward, and they’re really just the most hufflepuff couple in the world. Mostly, I just think the whole book is strong. There’s a large cast of characters, and they’re all well-developed. The character arcs are very strong, the subject matter is inspiring, and the writing is fantastic.

Julie Murphy’s such a talent, and I can’t wait for more books from her.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

2 responses to “Book Talk: Puddin’ by Julie Murphy”

  1. I’m glad to hear that the story picked up for you and you became invested in it. I remember really liking Dumplin’ back when I read it. I think I would probably have to reread it though in order to brush up on the characters. Thanks for your honest review. 🙂
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  2. Yay!! I remember loving Dumplin’ but I couldn’t tell you many of the other characters. I’ll probably try jumping right into Puddin’ but I do love when you can see small things from the first book become big things in the companion! Glad it was a great read 🙂
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