A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Friendship story meant to entertain.
The body you have shouldn't determine whether you deserve to have your dreams come true. Strong friendships help you be brave enough to be the person you really are, instead of the person everyone else thinks you are or the person you think you're supposed to be. Achieving your goals takes a lot more than wishing and hoping; it also takes a lot of doing. Life takes sudden turns in surprising directions; stay open to new possibilities and to finding different ways of achieving your goals.
Positive Role Models
Millie is a good model for accepting her body as it is, and for showing others that size or body type shouldn't affect how people are treated or whether they can achieve their dreams. She keeps a positive outlook and doesn't let others get her down for long. Callie is hard to like at first with her "queen bee" behavior, but she learns how to be a good friend and not to judge people's appearance. She makes some bad choices, gets in trouble, but pays the consequences and learns from her mistakes. The large cast of characters are somewhat racially and culturally diverse, with white, Latino, Hindi, and African American characters as well as gay and straight couples.
Violence & Scariness
A break-in and vandalized property aren't directly narrated, but the messy aftermath with broken glass and wrecked property are briefly described. Mention of bloody drool after wisdom teeth are removed. Someone slams a cell phone down in anger hard enough to break it. A few instances of nonviolent bullying, such as oinking at a fat person.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kissing and light making out described very briefly. Implied sex between two teens. Mention of the "orgasm scene" in When Harry Met Sally. A teen mentions she's been on the pill for some time. Getting first period mentioned as part of a game. A teen mentions she and her boyfriend are talking about having sex. Asexuality explained. A threat to send out pictures of male genitalia. Wet dreams mentioned. A past incident mentioned involves replacing birth control pills with aspirin; victim got pregnant and kicked out of the house. A couple of minor characters are in same-sex relationships; it's not a big deal for any of the characters.
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"D--k" (name calling and body part), "s--t," "f--ked," "crap," "bulls--t," "hell," "bitches," "poopacalypse," "ass," "butt," "damn," "turd," "slut," "hella," "asshole," "pooped," and "slut-shamed." Flipping the bird mentioned. A few sexual innuendos.
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Products & Purchases
Lots of food, snack, beverage, pop culture, beauty, and entertainment products mentioned, ususally to establish character or location. Dr. Pepper mentioned several times. "Oxy" and Adderall mentioned once each.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Mention of a past incident when a teen was too drunk to play a prank. Two teens say they shared one beer. Brief mention of prescription pain killers, stolen "oxy," and selling Adderall to teachers in exchange for good grades. Speculation about being high.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Puddin' is a companion novel to the popular Dumplin' by Julie Murphy. It's set in the same small Texas town, and has some overlapping characters who explore themes of accepting your body as it is, and learning not to treat others differently based on their appearance or body type, through an unlikely friendship story. Profanity isn't frequent but includes "s--t," "f--ked," "d--k," "bitches," and more. Violence includes an act of vandalism that's not directly narrated and some nonphysical bullying like making oinking noises at a fat person. Sexy stuff is mostly kissing and light making out, but teens talk about having sex, and once it's implied that two teens had sex. Birth control pills, getting a first period, and whether or not to have sex are mentioned. Asexuality is explained. Two teens are in same-sex relationships, but it's not explored as a theme. Very little drinking or drugs, but stolen "oxy" and providing teachers with Adderall in exchange for good grades is mentioned.
Is It Any Good?
Author Julie Murphy takes her fans back to familiar territory with this friendship tale that doesn't quite have the same spark or fresh attitude as the book that inspired it. Readers who come to Puddin' because they fell in love with Willowdean in Dumplin' may be disappointed that she's relegated to the sidelines here. Unfortunately, neither Millie nor Callie are funny or engaging enough to take Willowdean's torch and run with it.
That being said, there are still enough positive messages, good role models, friendship drama, relationship drama, romance, and slumber parties to make it an enjoyable read for teens looking for a light, good-hearted read. Teens who relate to Callie's intensity will enjoy her journey to becoming a better person and a good friend. Those who struggle to accept themselves for who they are, and their bodies for what they are, will root for Millie as she learns when not to take "no" for an answer.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.