Author: Julie Murphy

Genre: YA

Grade: B+

I have seen this one all over the place the last couple of weeks getting a lot of press and a lot of great reviews. So I was really excited to read it. In this kind of situation there is really only one question… Does it live up to the hype?


In some ways.

Willowdean is happily living her life in Texas with her mother, her best friend and her relatively good job at Harpy’s. She’s is overweight. It was sometimes hard for me to picture Willow in my head. She’s a pretty confident happy go lucky person until two things happen: she strikes up a romance with co-worker Bo and winds up entering in the big town pageant that her mother runs.

Willowdean is where the hype works. She’s just an all around great and very relatable character. She loves herself and sometimes she doesn’t. She’s fine with her body and then sometimes she hates it. She loves her family and friends but she’s hard on their weaknesses and flaws. In large part because she doesn’t see them as accepting hers. She’s confident but she also knows the world is cruel. Julie Murphy writes Willowdean very well even the times you don’t like her.

She’s also a very funny character quick to crack a joke with a love of Dolly Parton that made me head to iTunes after reading.

It falls down a little for me in two parts of the story. First Bo is almost too perfect. He’s like Prince Charming come to life and at the same time I never felt like I knew him which made it hard to really buy into the romance part. Second I wish they had done more with the pageant. It’s a big part of the last half of the book but then kind of tapers out. I really like the girls who compete because Willowdean entering made them brave. I wish they had done more with them. Also despite Willowdean constantly saying it was a big deal that she had entered and her mother saying she wasn’t going to get any special treatment… It really didn’t seem to be.

So in the end great main character with a really relatable voice makes the book. This is the second novel of Julie Murphy’s that I’ve read (the first being Side Effects May Vary) and I’m really looking forward to reading whatever comes next for her.

Recommend: Yes. It was overall very enjoyable and a nice break from the characters with special powers/hidden royalty stuff that I’ve been reading to much of lately.

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