Book Reviews

Book Review: PUDDIN’ by Julie Murphy

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THIS BOOK!!! It magically made my summer better and helped me work out a key plot point for my revisions. A 2-in-1 doesn’t get any better than that. Before I dive into the review, here’s a quick look at the summary:

“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.”

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Usually, with companion novels I’m always a bit iffy. Will it be as awesome as the first? Will I love the characters as much? Puddin’ blew all of those tiny questions in the back of my head away. I really enjoyed Dumplin’, but I think I can say that I enjoyed Puddin’ just a tad bit more. The majority of the characters who readers come to know and love in Dumplin’ appear in Puddin’, since the main characters in both novels are from the same pageant friend group.

And speaking of friend groups, the friendship in this book is amazing. Puddin’ is dual-PO told through the perspective of Millie and Callie, the mean girl. But what I love so much about Puddin’ is how well done the mean girl trope is subverted. Usually, mean girls serve as the antagonist but aren’t fleshed out. Callie was just as fleshed out as Millie, and the friendship that the two slowly build over the course of the novel is *enter chef’s kiss here*. The friendship between Millie and Callie sparked an idea for my revisions, so that just made me love both characters even more.

Puddin‘, like Dumplin’, has onvoices fat-positive rep, and though Callie’s character isn’t ownvoices, she is biracial. In addition to the friendships that builds between Millie and Callie throughout the course of the novel, there’s also the friendship between Millie’s pageant friend group. Though there are a lot of characters, maybe five in the group, each stands out and carries equal weight in Millie’s life. I’m a fan of huge friend groups in YA, but they’re somewhat hard to do due to having to juggle those characters in addition to the protagonist. Julie Murphy handles that juggling really really well.

Family relationships are also super important in Puddin’. Both Callie and Millie have distinct individual relationships with their parents (and in Callie’s case, extended family as well!), and those relationships power the story as much as the friendships do. Plus, there’s competivie dancing, journalism, and a whole lot of finding your dreams and chasing them.

If you read Dumplin‘ and enjoyed it, I highly recommend reading Puddin’. And even if you haven’t read Dumplin’, I think Puddin’ stands well as a standalone, so check it out as well!

As always,

Happy reading, happy writing, and happy blogging!

-Breeny

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