Puddin' by Julie Murphy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Millie Michalchuk has gone to fat camp every year since she was a little girl. Not this year. This year she has new plans to chase her secret dream of being a newscaster—and to kiss the boy she’s crushing on.
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 surprise everyone (especially themselves) by realizing that they might have more in common than they ever imagined.
Puddin' is the companion novel to Murphy's excellent Dumplin', but the good news is that you don't need to read one in order to read the other. What I loved most about this book was that friendship is the central plotline. Millie is the sunshiney, optimistic girl, while Callie is her pessimistic counterpart. The two girls are forced to work together and slowly (and mostly thanks to Millie's unfailing belief that Callie is a good person who deserves equally good friends) become friends. However, Callie's general disbelief that she can have real friends stands in their way, along with the fact that Millie hasn't told Callie that she's the reason Callie's having to work with her in the first place.
The book is full of humor and warmth. I'm always a sucker for a great setting, and Puddin' (like Dumplin') makes small-town Texas come alive. Callie and Millie's voices are so distinct that I didn't even need the reminder at the beginning of each chapter to know whose POV I was reading. While the friendship plot was satisfying, I think what I loved most about this book was each character's growth -- Millie finds her voice and Callie lets down her guard. Definitely not one to be missed!