Skip to main content

Spotlight Review: Puddin'


Puddin' by Julie Murphy (May 8)
Overview: Told from both Millie and Callie's prospectives, Puddin', a companion to Julie Murphy's wildly successful novel, Dumplin', brings a heartwarming story about dedication and friendship. Millie and Callie are brought together when Callie's dance team trashes Millie's uncle's gym because the gym had to pull the team's sponsorship money. When Millie identifies Callie on the security footage, it is decided that Callie will work at the gym with Millie to pay off the extensive damages caused to the gym. Though the fallen queen bee and the bubbly, self proclaimed fat girl don't seem like they could ever be friends, the many hours spent together cause them to learn that the other has more to offer than what appears on the outside. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 I thought the duel narrative structure worked really well here. Millie, with her optimism, organization, and drive is hard to not love. She wants to help all of her friends and achieve her own goal of going to broadcasting journalism summer camp at UT. Both she and her mother are plus sized, and it is very compelling to see the struggle it creates in their relationship because, while Millie has learned to love herself at any weight, her mother has struggled with yo-yo diets and the harmful ideas propitiated by society that there's "a thin girl inside just waiting to get out." I feel like this adds to the important narrative about how challenging self-acceptance is even if you feel good about yourself internally.
Callie has a much more cynical outlook on people. Once stripped of her dance team and popularity, she begins to see the error in their ways and how truly awful they were to each other and everyone around them. Her short temper definitely leads to a few missteps as Callie tries to reconcile what her identity is without the Shamrocks, a tradition her Nationals-winning mom had started. Callie also struggles with being half Mexican because the rest of her family, mom, stepdad, and half sister are all white, This is especially an issue in her tiny, Texas town where she'd often get mistaken for the help. Though Callie never shares these feelings with her mom, her discussions with her friends are important.
Millie's other friends, who she drags Callie into, also represent a wide group of people. Ellen, Willowdean, Hannah, and Amanda have different body types and sexual orientations that are both discussed and celebrated within the group. While I would know a bit more about these girls if I'd read Dumplin' first, there was plenty of detail to bring the girls to life.

Plot: 4 I really enjoyed this story. Each of the main characters guided the plot with one main problem of their own. Callie dominates the start of the book with her Shamrock drama before Millie takes over with her dreams of going to broadcast journalism camp and the many challenges that come to present themselves. There are also great subplots involving boyfriends (good and bad), sleepovers, and parental expectation.

Writing: 5 I knew I would love this book before I even picked it up based on Ramona Blue. I just love Murphy's style. I think she did a great job telling a story that both had substance and levity. I've never read a companion novel before, so this was a first for me, but I love it. It's perfect for me because while I don't love series, I do sometimes wish I could stay in the world longer. It will be exciting to read Dumplin' to find out some of the details of what happened before the events of this story unfolded. While I did it backwards because Puddin' was the book I could get my hands on first, I think that you could potentially read the books in any order, though I might recommend starting Dumplin'.


Links of Interest:
Dumplin': Review Here
All Of This Is True: Review Here
August And Everything After: Review Here
Royals: Review Here

If you liked this article, please share it with your friends and check out our other articles ranging from book reviews to poetry and short stories to editorials. To get updates about new posts and extras, please follow us on Instagram (@readingwritingandme), Twitter (@readwriteandme), and Facebook or sign up for email alerts by clicking the subscribe button at the top of the sight. Also, please leave comments or email us (readingwritingandme@gmail.com) with your thoughts or review requests. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Dumplin'

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy (375 pages)
Overview: Willowdean "Dumplin'" is fat. It's something that she's come to accept about herself even after years of fad diets enforced by her mother and bullying at school. Aunt Lucy certainly helped with her self acceptance, and in cultivating her love of Dolly Parton, but Will is left rudderless after Lucy has a sudden heart attack. To reclaim a bit of confidence she'd lost, Will signs up for the Clover City Pageant. Though she's not the typical beauty queen, Will and her group of friends get to put their own stamp on her mother's beloved pageant. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 I like Willowdean. She lives in the place most of us do on the fine line between insecure and confident. Murphy does a great job building a crew of characters around Willowdean. It was fun to revisit the cast after I'd read Puddin', Murphy's forthcoming companion novel.

Plot: 4 While this book is mainly billed as being about a beaut…

Top Reads of 2018

This year's best of 2018 list has tons of new categories to fit all of the amazing books I read this year. I've had the chance to read so many advanced books and recent releases, so most of what I read were books that came out in 2018. I mostly choose contemporary, so I've started with my favorite debut as well as the best books in other genres I've ventured into. After that, I have smaller categories in the contemporary genre. I hope you find new books to love and give to your friends and family for the holidays. If you're interested in learning more about the books on the list, click their titles to go to my reviews. Let me know if these are some of your favorites in the comments, and tell me your favorite books!
Best In Genre Top Debut
Nothing Left To Burn by Heather Ezell Nothing Left To Burn gave me the craziest book hangover. I was so immersed in the story, and I couldn't stop reading to do anything that I actually needed to be doing. There is a toxic relat…

What If It's Us

What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera (448 pages)
Overview: Ben and Arthur meet at the post office during a flashmob. Well, Arthur followed Ben into the post office because he thought he was and, and, just as they started talking, in true form with Arthur's New York fantasy, a flash mob erupted. When the boys and split up, Arthur loses his chance at connecting with Ben, but when he can't stop thinking about him, he explores ways to reconnect even in a city of a million empty faces like New York. Even if they can find each other, with Arthur going back to Georgia at the end of the summer, will it even be worth it? Overall: 4/5

Characters: 4.5 I'm not sure what to say about the characters. I liked them enough, but I didn't feel any real attachment to any of them. I liked the cast of friends, but they all lacked a certain weight that would give them a stronger sense of reality. My favorite relationship in the book was the friendship between Dylan and Ben.…

Nice Try, Jane Sinner

Nice Try, Jane Sinner Lianne Oelke (420 pages)
Overview: Jane wants to forget the past. Forget the high school that expelled her. Forget the people that watched her fall from grace. Forget her family who thinks that prayer is the answer to everything. Facing community college at Elbow River as a last resort graduation option, she signs up to be on House of Orange, a new web reality show, to solve her housing problem. Though she knows to expect the unexpected, House of Orange and its inhabitants test Jane in ways she never imagined. Maybe the year won't be as bad as she imagined. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 I LOVE Jane. There are very few main characters I can say that I appreciated more. Her sarcasm, dry humor, and outlook on life echoed my own thoughts, and I loved how she was so introspective. It is fascinating to listen to Jane work through her own thoughts and recognize her behaviors as masks for other feelings. I also thought that Oelke did a wonderful job with her depiction of Ja…

Diving Into Difficult Topics with Books (Part 1)

The world is filled with a lot of negativity and difficult situations. It's also filled with awkward stuff, misunderstandings, and confusing transitions through life. A lot of times, people wish they could have do-overs of certain moments knowing what they learned after the experience. Sometimes it's for awareness, preparedness, or redemption. Regardless, no one has a time machine.
But we do have books. There's been a couple different moments lately that got me thinking about books, censorship, and how books really are a safe space too explore topics that are tough to discuss or process. From starting and graduating high school, leaving for college, navigating breakups (of the romantic and friendship varieties), or seeing different takes on how people think of sex, YA on its most basic level navigates some of the biggest moments of teen years that no one is ever prepared for.
Books offer a safe space to contemplate regular teen moments and more intense situations that see…

Meet Me In Outer Space Review

Meet Me In Outer Space by Melinda Grace (262 pages) To Purchase from your Local Bookstore(Affiliate Link)
Overview: Eddie has an auditory processing disorder. Sometimes, she hears things that don't quite add up. Sometimes, she's able to piece together what is meant, and, others, she asks people to repeat themselves. This works well enough regularly, but, in French 102, it might keep her from her dreams. Eddie needs the language credits to graduate; she needs the French language if she wants to make it in France, the capital in fashion. She fully expects to fail French 102, but she doesn't expect to fall for the TA. Sometimes, though, life defies expectations. Overall: 4.5 

Characters: 4 Eddie is a highly relatable character. She's driven and willing to work doubly hard to overcome a system that actively works against her. She also knows what her dream is and how to get it. Spending the summer and fall semester of her junior year in Paris would allow her to step toward he…

Long Way Down

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (306 pages) Buy At Your Local Bookstore*
Overview: It's just one elevator ride. Just one elevator ride to the rest of Will's life. Eight floors takes so long when you're headed to kill someone. Even in revenge. Even for justice. Even when your brother was just murdered. It's even longer when every stop brings someone who's left your life back in. There's so much to learn before Will hits the lobby. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 Because of the atmosphere and the point of the story, we don't get super into the characters. They each represent a stop on a horrible cycle. It starts with Buck, Will's older brother, Shawn's, older brother figure. When Buck got killed, Shawn had to avenge his death, which got him killed. He also meets his Uncle Mark, an aspiring filmmaker who's death lead to Will's father's death because of the Rules. Each character doesn't exist to explore themselves or have their own motives- they…

Starry Eyes

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett (417 pages)
Overview: Glamping should not include getting stranded in the middle of the woods with your ex-best friend. But life doesn't always go as it's supposed to. When Zorie agrees to go with her friend Regan and her crew on a summer camping trip, she doesn't know Lennon will be there, and she's certainly not expecting the group to abandon the two of them in the middle of the California wilderness, forced to complete a multi day track back to civilization. It turns out, though, that an adventure in the woods might be just what they need. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 I thought that all of the characters, including the adults, were given dimension. I loved the parental dynamic between Lennon and his moms as well as Zorie's relationship with her step mom who never considered Zorie less than her own daughter.
Lennon and Zorie are also awesome characters. Zorie has to battle her intense anxiety and relinquish control while she's stuck in…

The Second Life of Ava Rivers

The Second Life of Ava Rivers by Faith Gardner Overview: The Rivers family has been lost for twelve years. Vera has been missing a twin. Her parents lost a daughter. Then, one day, there's a breakthrough. Ava is at a hospital an hour away, and their lives have been forever changed. Overall: 4
Characters: 4 The characters in the book are all interesting and quite complex. I really liked Vera and her very honest inner conflicts about her family's situation. She loses a lot of her life when Ava suddenly comes back into the picture. She's been in Ava's shadow her entire life, and no one knows what to do when Ava comes back.  Her parents and brother are also strongly featured as they fall apart and cope in their own ways. It makes it clear just how impactful events like these are on people who are not directly seen as the "victims". 
Plot: 4 This isn't a fast paced story. There are some wow reveals, but, overall, it is much more about the fallout to each twist th…

The Cheerleaders

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas (372 pages)
Overview: Five years ago, five cheerleaders on the same high school squad died in three separate incidents, but how separate were they? That's what Monica wants to know. Her sister, Jen, was the last teen to die in the tragedy when she died by suicide, but Monica isn't convinced it was simply survivors guilt at play. She's also not convinced that Jack Canning was truly at fault for two girls murders or that the car accident that took the final two girls was really an accident. With an unlikely friend by her side, Monica sets out to dig up the truth about what really happened to those five girls even if it jeopardizes her own life. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 I loved Monica's voice. Even though it's told in third person, her character really shined through. Despite making some poor choices and putting herself in dangerous situations, she does strive to do what she thinks will bring truth or justice. Ginny, a girl she connects…