Author You Should Know: Julie Murphy

I dislike perfect protagonists.  Well, I suppose I should modify by saying that in small, carefully monitored doses, they’re just fine.  But too much yay-I’m-so-smart-and-nice-and-pretty-and-thin-yay! gives me a sort of literary diabetes.

Rest assured that although the topics Julie Murphy addresses in her novels–cancer (Side Effects May Vary) and body acceptance/beauty/fatness (Dumplin), her characters are not perfect.  They are flawed and can even be downright nasty and petty.  And that, combined with sly humor, fully realized secondary characters, and a whole lotta Dolly Parton, is why Julie Murphy should be on your radar.15728577

Do you have teens who are tired of The Fault in Our Stars?  Do they find it unbelievable that teens with terminal illnesses approach things so philosophically (“Some infinities are greater than other infinities) or that when you’re sick and tired of living but don’t want to die, you’re not going to hang out on a swing set?  Don’t get me wrong–I read The Fault in Our Stars at a point in my life when I needed it, and it’s important to a lot of teens–but a lot of them want the down-and-dirty-truth.  The stuff that is so bad that it makes them feel better about whatever is going down in their lives.  Then give them Side Effects May Vary: it’s the story of Alice, who finds out that her cancer is in remission, and that all these people who’ve wronged her (either in reality or in her mind) need to pay.  She’s not above lying, manipulation, playing guys for affection, and more lying.  So, she’s human.

18304322But it’s Dumplin that has my eternal adoration.  The stereotype of the Fat Girl is that she’s either depressed (because she’s fat … ?) or that she’s cheerfully chubby, taking on the world one pound at a time. Willowdean Dickson’s momma is a former pageant queen, her aunt died of heart failure due to her excessive weight, and Willowdean herself is fat.  At the beginning of the book, Will really believes in fat acceptance.  But then life shows up with a husky-voiced boy, and she freaks out.  What will people think?  That she’s a pity-date?  Will ends up pushing away almost everyone who really cares about her.  But at the same time, you can’t help but root for this Dolly-loving, red dress-wearing, small-town Texas girl.

Get ready for life, not as a manic pixie dream girl hipster lover, but as a messy, flawed, perfectly imperfect human being with Julie Murphy’s books.

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