Series: Dumplin' #2
Written by: Julie Murphy
Published: May 8, 2018 by Balzar + Bray (Harper Collins)
Synopsis: 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 always really love Julie's contemporary novels. I have read all three of her previous novels and really enjoyed them all. They are the contemporaries that I love because they combine fun and lighthearted with more serious moments. Puddin was no exception. Plus it was so great to dive back into the world of Dumplin.
On of the things that I really liked about this book was the characters. Julie definitely knows how to write complex and likeable characters. Our two main characters could not be more different. Millie is perpetually optimist and hopeful. She is sweet and cares a lot about other people. For that reason, Millie is so easy to like and root for. She's the kind of person who never lets anything get her down for too long and she has a lot of inner strength. Being in Millie's head and hearing her voice was amazing. It was a breathe of fresh air and I really felt the joy of Millie's perspective. Callie on the other hand was totally opposite. She was a complete pessimist and totally sassy. Callie is the kind of protagonist that I usually enjoy though. She's kind of unlikable in that she's a bit of a jerk but she also has really great development throughout the book. I loved seeing Callie grow and evolve.
Each of the characters also had a romance throughout the book. I'm usually sort of picky when it comes to my romances but I really liked both of these. For Millie it was a friends to more sort of thing. She had a crush on this guy who she didn't realize also liked her. It was such a sweet and cute romance. The moments they had together were a really great part of the story. Callie also had a really great relationship in this book. It was with a character who was introduced in Dumplin' and I was glad to see that they found love as well. What I really liked too is that it's not two characters who you would normally put together but it worked so well.
But the real heart of this story was the friendships. First we have the unlikely girl gang that began in Dumplin'. I was so glad to see that Millie stayed close with Willowdean, Ellen, Hannah, and Amanda. Not only did I like the fact that we got to see them again but they are a great group and seeing their relationships grow throughout the book was fantastic. The bigger friendship of course was with Callie and Millie. They're definitely an unlikely duo which made their friendship all the more interesting and engaging. Plus the book dealt with more toxic friendships as well. It not only showed how you can become friends with people but also what it means to lose friends, whether because you drift apart or because you have a big falling out. I like the dichotomy of the two and how it showed the emotional toll that can take on a person. It was really relateable in that way.
But like all of Julie's books, it deals with some more serious concepts as well. One of the things that I liked the most is the way that it dealt with weight and perceptions of weight. If you read Dumplin' then you probably remember Millie as a fellow fat girl and the runner up in the pageant. I really love the way Millie's weight is handled in this book. They didn't shy away from addressing it and some of the misconceptions people have about fat people. As someone who is larger I really liked that. It improved on a lot of the ideas that Dumplin' introduced and I really liked the way it addressed these issues.
All in all, Puddin' was a fantastic contemporary read. It had great characters that were likable and interesting, it had an enjoyable romance, and a good story of friendship. Like all of Julie's books it perfectly balanced fun and sweet moments with serious issues.
I give Puddin' by Julie Murphy 9 out of 10 stars
Have you read Puddin'? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!