Thank you so much to the publishers for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Waylon Russell Brewer is a fat, openly gay boy stuck in the small West Texas town of Clover City. His plan is to bide his time until he can graduate, move to Austin with his twin sister, Clementine, and finally go Full Waylon, so that he can live his Julie-the-hills-are-alive-with-the-sound-of-music-Andrews truth.
So when Clementine deviates from their master plan right after Waylon gets dumped, he throws caution to the wind and creates an audition tape for his favorite TV drag show, Fiercest of Them All. What he doesn’t count on is the tape accidentally getting shared with the entire school. . . . As a result, Waylon is nominated for prom queen as a joke. Clem’s girlfriend, Hannah Perez, also receives a joke nomination for prom king.
Waylon and Hannah decide there’s only one thing to do: run—and leave high school with a bang. A very glittery bang. Along the way, Waylon discovers that there is a lot more to running for prom court than campaign posters and plastic crowns, especially when he has to spend so much time with the very cute and infuriating prom king nominee Tucker Watson.
This may shock some people because of how much the Clover City novels are loved but, Pumpkin is actually my first novel in this series that I’ve read! I’ve read Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy and loved it so I wanted to give the Clover City series a go. Luckily, the books can be read as standalone or as part of the series. There are call backs to the other two books in the series throughout which I enjoyed even though I didn’t understand them fully. I am most definitely going to read Dumplin’ and re-watch the film and also give Puddin’ a read!
Pumpkin is full of body positivity, family relationships and queer representation and it is an all round excellent book! I have a soft spot for books about drag and this book is perfect for that soft spot. Waylon, the main character, is so wonderful to read about. He starts out the book without many aspirations but little thoughts about becoming a drag queen. I love that it is through watching his favourite show and seeing his favourite queens lose out on the crown that pushes him to be a drag queen. He sees them lose out on the crown because they are ‘fat’ or do not fit the image of a queen and wants to change the narrative! I adored seeing Waylon transform throughout the book. Watching him learn to love himself and become more confident warmed my heart. I have to say even if you aren’t a fan of drag I am sure you will love this inspiring story even just for Waylon alone.
This book is packed full of characters and I was a fan of them all for different reasons. Clem, Waylon’s twin sister, deserves a special mention because she is wonderful and I loved the input her character has on the story. She is dealing with a lot herself and it brings a new dynamic to the story. Also Tucker is fabulous and I want a story all about him. Julie Murphy has done an incredible job of creating a lot of characters and making sure that they are all unique and wonderful!
Pumpkin tackles some serious topics such as fat shaming, all of which are discussed in an insightful and sensitive way. Julie Murphy has ensured that this book tackles necessary topics all whilst giving the overarching message of positivity, self-love and inspiration!
If you are looking for a body positive, LGBTQ+ story with a drag race theme throughout then this is for you. Even if you have not read the other Clover City novels (like me), it is easy to understand and a quick, fun read. I highly recommend it!