Thanks to the recommendations of one of my terrific writing groups, I recently tore my way through Catherine Gilbert Murdock’s YA novel Dairy Queen and its sequels, The Off Season and Front and Center. All three books follow DJ Schwenk, a painfully shy high school junior growing up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. DJ comes from a family of athletes. Both her brothers play college football. Her family is loving, but has trouble communicating. DJ has trouble with her confidence, despite the fact that she’s a gifted athlete herself. Dairy Queen follows DJ as she decides to try out for the football team herself. The next book deals with the topic of sports injuries. In the final book, which came out last year, DJ has to work for an athletic scholarship and decide where to go to college.
I feel like its one of the highest compliments I can give to say that a book felt compelling even when the topic wasn’t one that usually interests me. Honestly, I can’t even watch the Superbowl for the ads. That’s how little I care about football. Also, despite having grown up in North Carolina, where college basketball was pretty much the only sport going and my own mother is a pretty serious Duke fan, I can’t say I care for that much either. However, these books had me reading about football, coaching, athletic injuries, and NCAA recruiting rules. There’s more than a little teen angst and boy drama thrown in there, but unlike reading some narrators, whose inability to grow up or see the truth frustrates me as a reader, reading DJ’s voice always had me sympathetic with where she was in her life and impressed with how she was growing up. Overall, I enjoyed these light summer reads a lot.