Puddin’ – Julie Murphy – Dumplin’ #2 – Balzer+Bray – Published 8 May 2018
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.
Puddin’ is a delightful, uplifting, and empowering novel about friendship, fitting in and standing out – for all the right reasons.
Millie has no intention of returning to Fat Camp this summer. She just hasn’t told her mother yet. Millie dreams of becoming a journalist, even if it means she must stand up to the people who would attempt to dissuade her. Callie has the perfect life -boyfriend and co-captaincy of the dance team. But when a dance-team revenge prank gets out of hand, Callie ends up taking the fall – alone. Thrown together, Millie and Callie seemingly have nothing in common. But if anyone can break through Callie’s rough exterior, it is Millie. What starts as forced slowly becomes a strong friendship and the girls realise they might have more in common than they first thought.
Puddin’ is (I’m a little ashamed to admit) the first book I have read by Julie Murphy. Many of her other novels, especially Dumplin’, have been on my to-read list for ages, but for some reason I have never got around to reading them. That will change in the immediate future. While Puddin’ is a companion novel to Dumplin’ I was able to read, enjoy, and understand everything in Puddin’ without any trouble as it is a complete story in its own right and a standalone title. There were a few references that left me very intrigued, though, so I am really looking forward to finally reading Dumplin’. And seriously, how awesome is Willowdean?
It is impossible not to love Millie. She is effervescent, bright, strong, and talented. From her colourful clothing to the way she can bring people together, I loved spending time inside her world. Callie, on the other hand, was easy to dislike. She is rude, spoilt, and cruel – at least at first. Millie slowly breaks down Callie’s resistance and shows Callie that she too can have real friends and strong relationships. And gradually, Callie became someone even I could like, and possibly even love by the time she came out with this sentiment: “I mean, if you’re going to come over, wouldn’t you just text me? And if you don’t have my number to text me, do I even want you coming over?“. Okay, so maybe we’re kindred spirits, after all.
Callie and Millie’s friendship was wonderful to witness. Both girls had something to learn from the other. Both needed the other’s support and encourgment. And while Callie’s character development might have been the most noticeable, Millie too learns to stand up for herself in new ways. And, of course Millie’s friends, all familiar characters to those who have read Dumplin’, were wonderful additions to the story. Their friendship, banter, and teasing was so much fun.
Set in Texas, Puddin’ has all the Texas charm you could want. And while the friendship between Millie and Callie is the focus, Puddin’ is not without romance. Two incredibly sweet love stories grace the pages of this fabulous novel.
Puddin’ was both a fast and slow book. Fast in the way of a book that grabs your interest and won’t let go, fast in the way that you read it quickly because it’s just so much fun. But everything is paced perfectly. It felt like a long, slow book because nothing is rushed. Every moment gets its due time and nothing is contrived to fit or squished into an unnatural deadline.
There are so many wonderful things I could list about Puddin’: the diversity of the characters (ethnicity, sexual orientation, size); the brilliance of the characters, story and overall message; the quotable lines that delighted the librarian inside me: “And why is everyone always trying to take money away from libraries? Aren’t books sort of the reason we’re even in school at all?”. But overall Puddin’ is an uplifting and heartwarming story that is a lot of fun to read.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Friendship, vandalism, dancing, journalism, bullying, body image, body weight, self-perception, high school, coming of age, romance, dating, resilience.
Reading age guide: Ages 14 and up.
Advisory: Sexual references and references to sexual relationships. Coarse language, f*** (7), sl** (2), sh** (56), as***** (25), bit** (11), pi**(13), di** (5).
Published: 8 May 2018 by Balzer+Bray.
Format: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook. 336 pages.