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

More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn Cover Reveal

Today is a very special post because I get to show you all a first glimpse at More Than Maybe, Erin Hahn's sophomore novel. I've been excited about this book since I finished You'd Be Mine, and I'm so happy to finally be able to see the cover and learn a little more about Luke and Vada. Before I get to telling you about MTM and showing off the cover, I just wanted to talk a little bit about how I first found and fell for Erin's work. I randomly stumbled upon You'd BeMine on Netgalley and decided to give it a try, and from the second I read the first page and heard Clay's voice so clearly in my head, I was hooked. After I finished reading, I wanted to know more about the book, the characters, and how the story came to be, so I reached out to Erin, and she was sweet enough to agree to do an interview. I know I'm not supposed to pick favorites, but her thoughtful answers and complete sincerity makes my interview with her one of my favorites of them all. I…

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…

Permanent Record Review

Permanent Record by Mary HK Choi
Overview: Pablo's life is a mess. He works at a bodega or a "health food store" depending on who you ask, which is about the only thing he has going right at the moment. He dropped out of NYU, though that debt still follows him, along with the credit card bills from some ill advised buying sprees. He has a good group of friends that he lives with and a family that genuinely does love him, but he has no clue what he's doing. What's the end goal? Who knows... Overall: 5 

General Thoughts: This is not a normal part of my reviews, but I had some things I wanted to say that don't necessarily fit anywhere else. 1) I love this book, but I feel like it's for a very particular set of readers. You MUST be a lover of character driven stories because a lot of this book is exploring Pablo's mind. I love that. I honestly don't care about plot if I love your characters, but I know a lot of people aren't like that, so fair warni…

Goodbye, Perfect

Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard (January 29)
Overview: Eden has always been the irresponsible one with poor grades, a loud mouth, and a general air of irresponsibility, but it's her friend Bonnie that takes over the headlines of every major news station in the UK. Bonnie disappears with her ,music teacher and parent boyfriend, Jack Cohen, better known to everyone at Kett as Mr. Cohen. Eden can't believe that a friend would do this, but, suddenly, when she gets a WhatsApp message from Bonnie, she's clued in to their runaway mission. Pressured by her family, Bonnie's, and the cops, Eden refuses to tell them what they know because she made a promise to her best friend. Overall: 3.5 

Characters: 3 Okay, I guess I can see some of the thinking behind these characters, but it wasn't articulated very well. Eden refuses to tell on her friend even though she knows how wrong and serious the situation is. I can see making a promise and being hesitant, but I can't see a sixt…

Into YA with James Brandon

Today I'm talking to James Brandon on the blog about his new book Ziggy Stardust and Me and how he came to write the story! Hope you enjoy!

1. You’ve written a historical novel set in the 70s. How much research went into creating an accurate setting? Was it difficult to naturally write about a world and events that took place around forty years ago?
Once I knew the story would be set in the summer of 1973, I spent a year immersing myself in the time period before I began outlining and drafting the story: I only listened to early seventies music (which I now find to be some of the raddest music to date), I watched TV shows and movies, and devoured books and magazines from that time. I also spent weeks at the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco sifting through their archives. I remember finding a set of letters from a pair of lovers who I’m fairly certain never met in real life. (They couldn’t out of fear.) These letters were written with such raw emotion, you could feel the love…

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.…

Into YA with Laura Silverman

Today I'm posting an interview that has been a long time in the making. I reached out to do this interview with Laura before You Asked For Perfect came out, and then things got busy so it's been a minute since doing this interview, but YAFP is one of my favorite books all year. If you haven't read the book, it is an absolute must read for anyone involved in high school, heading to senior year, in education, or is a parent. I've never read a book where I yelled "That's me!" so many times. Here's my review to catch up so that you can have a little context for that. 

1. Where did you get the inspiration to write a book about the reality students today face? I love how you delve into the intense pressure to take as many APs as possible, and, as the title implies, to be perfect.
I went to an academically competitive high school where we were encouraged to take as many AP classes as possible and to sign up for extra electives, which led to things like zero pe…

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…

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…

Guest Post with Kristy Fairlamb

Today, I'm bringing you another guest post from an author! Kristy Fairlamb stopped by to talk about her top tips for writing and her writing process. Her novel, Lucid, recently came out. If you're interested in learning more or picking it up, check out my Indiebound link! (Affiliate Link).

Eight tips for writing a novel: Based on my vague understanding of the process after winging it and completing three manuscripts.  My first book, Lucid, has just been published, the sequel, Luminous, is mid-edits and the third, a standalone, is at the 2nddraft stage waiting until I’ve finished with the others. 
ONE:JUST WRITE I went to a writing class once and sat beside a lady who told me it was the sixth session she had attended. I asked what she was working on, she said nothing yet, she’s learning first.
I didn’t know how to write when I first started writing. I believe the best learning came after I’d written the first draft when I learnt everything I’d done wrong.
Don’t wait to write until yo…