The Traveling Librarian: Breaking the YA Mold with Meet Julie Murphy

I had the pleasure of attending the Breaking the YA Mold Tour which included Julie Murphy at the Arlington Heights Public Library in Arlington Heights, Illinois. The evening began with some Dolly Parton music and button making.

dumplinJulie Murphy’s second book, Dumplin’, is about an overweight girl who finds love and confidence. During the visit, an audience member claimed that her thin teenage daughter loved Dumplin’ and she wanted to know how Murphy was able to make a book about a fat girl relatable to all girls.  Murphy answered by saying that readers can replace the word fat with whatever makes them feel left out.  Murphy also said that many of us present an air of confidence, but when someone wants to touch our body, we get insecure.  She believes we have to stop thinking that when someone loves us and our bodies we will begin to love ourselves, because that is a shortcut.  We have to love ourselves first.  Willowdean, the heroine of Dumplin’, prides herself on her confidence, but when a boy wants to touch her, she gets insecure.  Dumplin’ enters a beauty contest and ultimately discovers that it is up to her to find her confidence. 

According to Murphy, there are few YA books about overweight girls where the girl isn’t trying to lose weight. IMG_0093Willowdean is not trying to lose weight; she’s trying to find a relationship with her mother, she’s trying to honor her favorite aunt, and she’s trying to find her confidence.

The other highlight of the night was meeting Adam Silvera, the author of More Happy Than Not.  Silvera was in town for the YA Lit Conference hosted by Anderson’s Bookshop and he stopped by for the visit.

I enjoyed the visit and meeting Julie and Adam and I look forward to my next author visit.

— Dawn Abron, currently reading Passenger by Alexandra Bracken