Pumpkin – Julie Murphy

Standard

Harper Collins Australia

July 2021

  • ISBN: 9780063134867
  • ISBN 10: 0063134861
  • Imprint: HarperCollins US
  • List Price: 19.99 AUD

Seriously, you could hardly get a better book to read during (another) lockdown than this deliciously funny and heart-warming companion novel to Dumplin’. I can guarantee your readers will fall in love with Waylon Brewer and the accompanying cast of characters in this romp through senior years in West Texas.

Waylon has been ‘out’ since 9th grade so he’s pretty used to being viewed as the fat, gay kid and feels he has survived pretty well. He feels confident about himself (but not really), he can out-sass the taunters (though it gets tedious) and he is looking forward to finishing school and heading off to Austin for college with his twin, Clementine. As it happens, Clem is also gay – as Waylon says, their parents won the queer lottery – and is in a steady relationship with Hannah, quirky and a little bit bolshie. Their parents are totally at ease with their children’s sexuality – Mom: the ‘wokest middle-aged woman in Clover City’, Dad: ‘small-town guy but not small-town minded’ and their eccentric Grammy is every bit as flamboyant as Waylon, whom she calls Pumpkin.

Things start to go a little awry for Waylon though. The little ‘thing’ he’s been having secretly with a guy in town and hoped might turn into a relationship goes down the gurgler, he finds out that Clem is not going to college in Austin but intends to go to Georgia, leaving him in the lurch according to his reckoning and then to top it off his preferred drag queen misses out on the season finale title of his favourite TV show. In a fit of pique more than anything, Waylon attempts his own home-made drag video and when it suddenly goes very public all over town there is a whole lot more to deal with.

Part of the fall-out from the video is that Waylon/Pumpkin, as well as Hannah, is nominated for Prom Queen and King respectively, in a move intended to be a cruel joke. But with absolutely splendid gumption the pair decide they are going to go for it and along the way impress their school, their families and their community with their utter grit and integrity. Oh! and during the course of all this, Pumpkin finds the boy of his dreams, although of course, not without some dramas.

I repeat this is just a joyful read. It is so heart-warming to see the growing friendships and relationships, to watch these characters grow throughout the plot, and to revel in the positive interactions and, of course, the successes.

I was anxious about whether we would be able to include it in our general collection (if you are a church school you will also have constraints) but it is neither offensive nor crass, there is very little swearing and that quite low level, and the obvious positives more than justify me including it. I will restrict it to our Year 8s upwards but that will be my only move in that regard (and of course, if my 7s have parental permission they can access these in any case).

I can highly recommend this for your teen readers and I suspect it will be in very high demand when we get back to school this week (yayyy for lockdown being finished!) and I can book talk it to my Choc Lit kids. It gets a very glittery 5-star rating from me – along with as many other sparkly bits as Pumpkin would enjoy!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s