The Oracle

A slow start leads to something wonderful

Julie Murphy’s “Dumplin’” sequel is sure to warm your heart.

Ann Marie Leimbach, Variety Editor

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Since its release in December, the Netflix original movie “Dumplin’” has received a considerable amount of praise from viewers and critics. The movie is based off of Julie Murphy’s book of the same name and follows unapologetically fat Willowdean as she enters a beauty pageant and helps others become just as unashamed of their bodies as she is. A companion novel, “Puddin’” looks at a couple of side characters introduced in the first novel. The book is told from the perspectives of former fat-camp attendee Millie Michalchuk and dance team star Callie Reyes as they form an unlikely friendship.

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On the whole, “Puddin’” is a delightful read. It is poignant, funny and made me feel good. In this quintessential coming of age novel, Murphy truly takes both of her characters on a journey of self-discovery. Callie starts out as an average high school queen bee, and Millie a goody-two-shoes terrified of breaking the rules. Through each other, they learn confidence, kindness, vulnerability and, perhaps the most important lesson, how to be a good friend.

If there is one thing Julie Murphy knows, it is how to write distinct, realistic women who do not fit into boxes. “Puddin’” connects the reader to Callie and Millie so well it felt like watching friends grow and become better people in real time.

Though enjoyable in the long run, Murphy’s novel is not without its faults. For one thing, the first 150 pages or so are a slog to get through. Callie can be so sour, and Millie can be so pathetic; it can be infuriating to read from their points of view at times. Callie especially was so tough because I did not want to root for her; Millie had a kind heart, but it was hard to find the good in Callie. Eventually, this difficulty pays off, but only if you can make it there.

In general, the book was a bit longer than it needed to be. Both girls getting their own romantic subplots took away from the important story at the center, and Callie’s felt notably unnecessary.

The influence of the romantic comedy genre of movies was apparent throughout “Puddin’, and while it was largely fun and cute, it also got a bit predictable. With a plot point taken straight from “Mean Girls,” the events felt unoriginal and distracted from the growth the characters were experiencing.

Despite its flaws, “Puddin’” truly has some valuable messages to send. Millie provides a frank and necessary look at life as a fat woman while Callie demonstrates the downsides to being one of the mean girls. Mainly, Julie Murphy wants to say that women should support and uplift other women instead of tearing them down.

In Murphy’s own words, “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.”

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The student news site of Hamline University.
A slow start leads to something wonderful