Author: Julie Murphy
Audience: Young Adult/ Grades 7+
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Tags: high school, prom, lgbtq+, gay main character, romance, warm & fuzzy
Other Notes: Book 3 in the Dumplin’ series
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ /5
Release Date: 05/25/2021
I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book for free through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. See the end of the review for teacher-specific info.
Oh my gosh, the feels!
Let me start by saying that I loved Dumplin’. Not only was the story fantastic, but it was one of those reading experiences that was so personally affirming for me as a woman who has been fat since elementary school.
I was so excited when Puddin’ was released to return to Clover City and spend time with Millie, but while I enjoyed that book, it just didn’t have the same magic for me that Dumplin’ did.
Did that stop me from getting super excited when I saw this third book sitting in my NetGalley queue? Of course not. And, as it turns out, for good reason.
Pumpkin, for me, really recaptured the magic of its first predecessor. I was rooting for the main character from the get-go, the love interest was perhaps just as dreamy as Bo, and we got to see quite a few of the original cast, but they were no longer the focus of the story (outside of Hannah, the only OG character to play a significant role). Waylon’s initial journey into drag was a delight to read, and this book was warm and supportive in all the best ways. My only frustration was that it ended- I was highly upset when I turned the page and found only the acknowledgements waiting.
Beyond that, I’m sure anyone who loved Dumplin’ will love this book as well. We do get to find our what the original crew’s post-high school plans are, with this book set just two weeks away from the end of senior year. I am left to wonder whether this timeline means that Julie Murphy is finished with Clover City, but with the introduction of new characters, including an entire club of LGBTQ+ students, there would certainly be plenty of characters with new stories to explore. Heck, maybe even infamous bully Patrick can get a redemption arc or something. After reading the gem that is Pumpkin, one can only hope there’s more to come.
Now for the teacher bit: Like its predecessors, this book is the perfect early-YA. It deals with topics that students in grades 7-10 can relate to, contains little-to-no inappropriate language, and there is no sexual activity discussed beyond characters making out, which is infrequent. This can be read as a stand-alone, but I do think the context of the earlier books in the series would better help the reader understand Hannah’s character and appreciate the occasional appearances of characters from earlier in the series. This is definitely worth picking up for your classroom library, especially if you are seeking more books with LGBTQ+ main characters without the heaps of trauma that can permeate those texts.