Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
Published by Balzer + Bray on May 9th 2017
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Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever.
Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.
The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke. Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.
I completely adored Dumplin’, also by Julie Murphy. That was the first book where I’ve seen a fat character, happy and proud of herself and her body. Representation is so important. Everyone should have the opportunity to see themselves in a book. With Dumplin’, Julie Murphy earned herself a fan for life. I will read anything she writes. Ramona Blue looks excellent in it’s own right, as well. I lived in Louisiana when Katrina and Rita hit and there are still people displaced today, 10 years later. Julie Murphy writes touching, realistic and important stories. I’m sure this one is no different!
Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
Published by Balzer + Bray on September 15th 2015
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Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed Â“DumplinÂ’Â” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always workedÂ…until Will takes a job at HarpyÂ’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isnÂ’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.
Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageantÂ—along with several other unlikely candidatesÂ—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, sheÂ’ll shock the hell out of Clover CityÂ—and maybe herself most of all.
With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroineÂ—DumplinÂ’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.
I had heard a lot about this book before I finally got the chance to pick it up. Â If anything, it surpassed all of my expectations. Body positive is an understatement. Willowdean is proudly, unapologetically, beautifully herself. In a world where women always have to think about how they act, how they look, how they present themselves, Willowdean is a breath of fresh air.
My favorite part of this book was probably how Willowdean felt when she went into Sweet 16, where her friend Ellie works. Willowdean is uncomfortable. She didn’t apply for a job at Sweet 16 because she didn’t want to work where she can’t wear the clothes. She also doesn’t really want to bring it up or make a big deal out of it if Ellie hasn’t thought of it herself. This hit so close to home for me. This was every shopping trip I took in college with my college friends. This was my life. Willowdean, though, she doesn’t feel bad about it. I love that about her.
This is the book that I wish I read in high school. If I had, maybe it wouldn’t have taken me so long to grown into my skin. I had to learn to like myself. I’ve always been stubborn and I definitely took the long, hard way around when it came to learning this lesson. If I had Dumplin’ to read, maybe it wouldn’t have taken so many years to learn to love myself. Â IÂ can’t say enough how grateful I am to Julie Murphy for writing this book. There are girls who need to read it. I know because I am one.