Saturday, April 3, 2010

Review: Dairy Queen

Dairy Queen
By Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Publication date: 2006
My rating: *****

My review:

Fifteen year old DJ Schwenk has a busy summer ahead of her. She's been taking on more and more of the daily responsibilities of running the family's dairy farm since her dad hurt his hip. It's a lot of hard work but DJ doesn't complain even when her dad never thanks her and just assumes she'll do everything because there is no one else to do it. Her older brothers Winn and Bill are no longer at home and not really speaking to the family and her younger brother Curtis can only help out at times so DJ is stuck with most of the work. She doesn't have time to study so she's failing her English class and she doesn't have time to spend with her friend Amber who hasn't been very nice lately.  But the Schwenks are known for being a hard working family that doesn't talk about their problems or much of anything else. Then a family friend and head coach of the rival school football team assigns quarterback Brian Nelson to help out on the Schwenk farm and DJ has to supervise the lazy and arrogant teen. At first the idea looks like a dismal failure but then they strike up a bargain-Brian will work on the farm in exchange for DJ overseeing his football training. With two older brothers playing college football, DJ has had plenty of experience with training. But as she and Brian let down their guard and work together DJ realizes that she wants to play football herself, a decision that leads to surprising changes.

At first glance this book appears to be about farming and football. I am not a fan of football so I didn't think I would enjoy this book. I'm so glad I was wrong. DJ is not like the teens I typically read about in YA books. She is incredibly driven and hardworking. I wouldn't be able to accomplish half of what she does in a day. She is also very brave in deciding to join the football team at her school despite opposition and the concerns of others. I like how DJ is not afraid to be different. I found her character to be very admirable. When we are first introduced to Brian Nelson, he comes across as a jerk even though he does have some justification when DJ needles him. As the story progresses, we see why Brian behaved the way he did in the beginning and by spending time with DJ, he changes and becomes not just a better football player but a better person. In turn, Brian is able to help DJ open up about the things that bother her, especially her relationship with her family. DJ's mom is an incredibly busy woman who is absent much of the time due to her two jobs as school teacher and interim principal. DJ's dad is a complex character, someone I didn't like at all when I started the book who later grew on me. He may be gruff and seem to be oblivious sometimes but he does care about his kids. DJ's younger brother Curtis has secrets of his own but he is a really nice boy who does his best to help his sister when he can. The other main character is DJ's friend Amber. Like DJ, she is not one of the popular kids but the two of them have been inseperable for six years until this summer. Amber's reasons for her strange unfriendly behavior are explained suddenly and she sort of disappears from the novel for awhile. That is pretty much the only thing I didn't like about this book.

Dairy Queen is a fantastic story about friendship, family, and the importance of being yourself. I've read one other book by Catherine Gilbert Murdock, a YA fantasy novel called Princess Ben, which I really enjoyed. Dairy Queen far surpassed it and I can't wait to read the rest of the series. DJ Schwenk is an original character I won't soon forget. If you haven't read Dairy Queen, you should give it a try. Even if you aren't a fan of football, you'll be in for a treat!


  1. I enjoyed Princess Ben and Dairy Queen, Catherine Gilbert Murdock has talent! Great review!
    Also, please check your e-mail, I sent you a message!

  2. Great review!! I agree with you! Great story and perfect for everyone but esp the young ones in our lives. A couple of weeks ago I gave Diary Queen to my 16 yo sister to read. A year ago I read this novel because my MIL loved it.

    I adore DJ and can relate easily.


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