Puddin’ is a novel by Julie Murphy. It’s a companion to Dumplin’.
Finished on: 4.11.2021
Millie Michalchuk has spent every summer at fat camp, not that it had much effect on her being fat. And really, she is quite alright with being fat, but her mom isn’t, and so the threat of fat camp hangs over her head yet again. But this year, Millie has other plans. She just doesn’t know yet how to tell her mom about it. That entire thing takes a backseat though when the gym that Millie works at and that belongs to her uncle is vandalized. Millie realizes that one of the perpetrators is Callie Reyes. Popular, beautiful and mean, and now, apparently a criminal, Callie is everything that Millie is not. When Millie’s uncle decides that Callie can work off the damages at the gym, neither Millie nor Callie are thrilled to be working with the other. But Millie is determined to make a friend out of Callie yet, despite everything. And somehow, things start moving.
Puddin’ is a super cute and sweet read that I enjoyed a lot, even though I was a little disappointed because I was hoping for this turn into a romance between Millie and Callie. It does not. But it does tell a very nice story about platonic friendship and that is great, too.
Puddin’ is a companion novel to Dumplin’: We meet Millie and Callie for the first time in Dumplin’ and the circle of friends Millie has in Puddin’ are the same people that take center stage in Dumplin’. It’s not strictly necessary to read Dumplin’ before reading Puddin’ but I think that you’ll get more out of it if you do, especially as Puddin’ gives you a glimpse at how things continued for Willowdean. I also found it very impressive how well Murphy shifts the perspective from Willowdean’s inner voice to Millie’s (and to a lesser extent Callie’s) observations of her. Overall the book should stand well enough of its own.
Much like Dumplin’, Puddin’ packs a lot of social issues into its young adult frame and tale of sweet friendship. We get fat hate/fat acceptance, queermisia or racism, alongside questions of friendship, family and first love and finding out who you are, at least for now. As I’m always looking for fat characters, I particularly loved how Murphy handles that angle, but she does really well with all the angles she pursues, I thought.
As I said, I was a little disappointed that Millie and Callie didn’t get a romance with each other, but they both get a romantic story and I really enjoyed those. But they are pushed to the side: the heart of the story is Millie and Callie becoming friends. And it’s a beautiful, emotional heart.
I raced through the book in any case. It’s an addictive and wonderful read that I really loved.
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