Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
This is the story of Willowdean, an overweight teen, who has a pageant-obsessed mother…ironic, right? Will has always been fine with herself, happy even, with a best friend named Ellen (whom looks like she should be in a pageant) that has always made her feel loved and included. Then, she starts working at Harpy’s, a local fast-food joint, and meets Bo–a cute boy from the Catholic high school in town. She would never have thought he would be interested in her, but develops a “secret” relationship with him. Instead of being happier, she starts to question why she feels like it should be “secret”, or is it him that feels like that? And what about the other guy that is interested in her? Would she be better off with him? With all this in question, she decides to throw everyone for a loop and enter the pageant that her town is famous for and that her mother is in charge of…and, thus, the fun begins. With the help of some other non-standard contestants, they shock everyone.
There were some great, quotable lines!
Also, there is a lot of Dolly Parton in this book. 🙂
Part of me LOVES this book and the fact that Will didn’t have to lose weight to become a skinny, “happy” person during the course of the story. Another part of me was a little underwhelmed I guess, hoping something really big would happen. I have read some comments that the main character is too judgemental and hateful about other people, but I find it to be truthful. Teen girls, no matter their size, are harsh to and about each other, so I didn’t take offense to her feelings towards some of the other characters. She is just one of those people who doesn’t censor her thoughts. Overall, I felt this was a very fun, yet real, book and will definitely be recommending to my high school students.
My rating: 4/5
Balancing Act by Margaret Gurevich
Even though there were lots of issues with this book, I still liked the overall story and concept of this series so I still gave it 3 stars, as opposed to the 2 I was considering. This is the continuation of Chloe’s story after winning a design show in the first book. She is working at her internship at a famous designer in NYC as part of her prize and gets to experience several different departments in the fashion world. This story really focuses on the fashion aspect of her life, there is a touch of romance and some drama, but it is definitely good for fashionistas. I love the full-color illustrations of her different design ideas. It really helps you see what she’s talking about as opposed to just having to use your imagination. Plus, it just makes the book look more interesting.
As I commented on another review, I was not impressed in the least with the repetition that I found to be a major part of this story. I’m hoping that is something that is fixed before the actual book is released. If I had to read one more time about who Leisel McKay was, I was going to throw my iPad across the room. If a reader can’t remember who a character is after the first introduction, then they should just quit reading! Sheesh! We were told at least 5 times that Leisel was a designer that worked as a mentor to Chloe on the design show….oh, and she is Jake’s mom. Who is Jake? Don’t worry, that will be explained a few times too. Sorry if this seems harsh, but I found it seemed like the author felt the reader was too stupid to remember details.
Anyway, this is still a fun story that I will probably purchase for my high school library since I already have the first book and because I know it will appeal to a certain demographic of students. Hopefully, those errors will be resolved by publication.
My rating: 3/5
Material Girls by Elaine Dimopoulos
**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date is 5/5/15.
This book was interesting…I didn’t dislike it, but I didn’t love it. It did keep me reading though, which is important. Had I not been a lover of fashion though, I’m not sure this would have been the case. The story is set in the future (?) and kids are “tapped” at the age of 13 to go into a creative field, or not tapped at all and considered an Adequate…which means they have to become a doctor or lawyer (gasp, the horror!). Those that are tapped are placed into a field and assigned a specific job. The main characters, Marla and Ivy, told in alternating viewpoints, were both tapped to big-time careers that were their dreams. Marla was assigned to one of the Big Five fashion design companies and Ivy became a pop star. Though the story is also about Ivy, I felt it was more geared towards Marla’s story, though they were integrated well. Marla’s time is pretty much already up in her dream gig at the ripe age of 16 and she is assigned to a lowly position within the company after being demoted from one of the most prestigious jobs. She and the other unhappy employees decide they would like to strike and they try to work with big people, like Ivy, to help them accomplish their goals. Of course, there is a bit of romance involved, but it does not overtake the real point of the plot, which is basically about learning to be happy with what you have and not striving for fame and perfection. My main complaint with the book was that it just ended without much being resolved…the characters were basically in the same place as before, there was no resolution for me at all.
Overall, I guess I would give this book 4 stars for creativity and idea, but only 2 stars for execution, development, and world-building. I never really knew why the world ended up this way or when it started, anything really. I will most likely purchase for my library, but not sure how much I will recommend it.
My rating: 3/5