Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Puddin' by Julie Murphy

Puddin' by Julie Murphy
Release Date - May 8,  2018
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages -  448 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
It is a companion novel to Dumplin', which follows supporting characters from the first book in the months after Willowdean's star turn in the Clover City pageant.

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. 
It is a rare occasion that I love a companion novel more than the original. Julie Murphy has accomplished not only creating a satisfying contemporary novel, but one that accomplishes this elusive goal. She manages to make Puddin' stand on its own merits while still gifting fans of Dumplin' with a return to the characters they fell in love with.

It is the female friendship that is the heart and soul of this story. The entire tone of the novel is one of girl power, the importance of friendships, and supporting each other. The group of girls who bonded during the pageant in Dumplin' are there for each other in a way that just makes your heart swell. They have their differences and disagreements, but they are always there when they need each other. It was refreshing to see friendships where there was no drama due to romantic interest in the same person. That story arc is the typical go to in female friendships and I was relieved it was not included within these pages. Anyone looking for a story that allows these friendships be the focus will find this read a delight.

Callie is a fascinating character. Many will remember her from Dumplin' and probably have a set expectation of who she is. Julie Murphy manages to create a complex, at times infuriating character who is so much more than you think. She may make awful decisions and mistakes, but she is never shown to be unworthy because of it. She is someone who has a lot of growing to do and changes she needs to make but you root for her to see the error of her ways. All of these feelings are simply a result of how well written the character is. Julie Murphy makes it easy to understand Callie even if you don't always like her actions.

Millie is someone figuring out who she is and what she wants. She is finding her voice for the first time and taking the tentative first steps of independence from her parents. It's a journey every person takes and while Millie's is unique to her circumstances there is something relatable at its core. Part of the book's charm is seeing Millie and Callie form a strong friendship, and how they influence each other. Millie grows just as much as Callie does as the story progresses. She just does it in a vastly different way.

The romance that is in the novel is not quite in the background, but definitely not the main focus. They are very sweet and tentative in way that I found charming. There is something to be said for that giddy crush feeling and the blushes that come along with it. Julie Murphy is a pro at creating these relationships that feel filled with potential and very much grounded in reality. They start as friendships and that very much feels like the most important aspect to any romance that Julie writes.

A story filled with friendships, sleepovers, first loves, and learning to stand up for what you want. Puddin' is, perhaps, even more charming than Dumplin' and provides a feel good read that is all heart. Julie Murphy continues to write novels that are simply a delight to read. It's one I highly recommend when you need a fun read that will make you laugh. It's one that you'll immediately want to share with your friends. 

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