After recently reading Dumplin‘ recently, I immediately put my name on the waitlist for Puddin’ at the library. The first book was great – it focused on self love and being true to yourself. Naturally, I couldn’t wait to read this follow up – set in the point of view of Willowdean’s friend Millie – a bad ass who was unapologetically herself. I’m happy to say that this book lived up to Dumplin’ and more.
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.
The fun part about reading this book after reading Dumplin’ is that all the side characters in this book come from the first one. There are plenty of callbacks and references to the events of the novel, giving the reader a peek into what’s been happening for Willowdean et al after the pageant. I really appreciated how realistic the groups dynamic was – after they completed the pageant they weren’t magically BFFs for life – they began to drift apart like a ragtag group with nothing in common would. I found in this book, the characters were able to shine even more because they were more themselves – they weren’t posturing for a pageant.
Millie is the opposite of Willowdean – where Willowdean had to find her confidence throughout Dumplin’, Millie was sure of who she was straight out of the gate. She knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life and how she intended to do it – further, she was completely comfortable in her own skin. One of the overall themes in the book was how she was trying to make the people around her as comfortable with what she looked like as she was. Millie was only one part of the leading dynamic duo – the story was also told from the point of view of Callie. Callie was also in Dumplin’ where she was portrayed as a villain. In this book, we get to see where she’s coming from and why she does some of the (arguably cruel) things she does. The dynamic between Millie and Callie is deeply organic and realistic – they aren’t instant best friends and have their fair share of fights and disagreements. This dynamic is really what carries the book – it’s a story of an unlikely friendship and the importance of being true to yourself.
If you’re looking for a story of friendship, ambition, and self love, this is the book for you. It’s a great followup to Dumplin’ and I definitely hope that Netflix makes an adaptation of this one too. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Dumplin‘ as well. Once again, this was a great coming of age story with a few flaws, but overall is a great contemporary YA book. 4/5