Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Review - Dairy Queen / Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Summary - When you don't talk, there's a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said. Harsh words indeed, from Brian Nelson of all people. But, D. J. can't help admitting, maybe he's right. When you don't talk, there's a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said. Stuff like why her best friend, Amber, isn't so friendly anymore. Or why her little brother, Curtis, never opens his mouth. Why her mom has two jobs and a big secret. Why her college-football-star brothers won't even call home. Why her dad would go ballistic if she tried out for the high school football team herself. And why Brian is so, so out of her league. When you don't talk, there's a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said. Welcome to the summer that fifteen-year-old D. J. Schwenk of Red Bend, Wisconsin, learns to talk, and ends up having an awful lot of stuff to say.

Review - Dairy Queen managed to make American football and farming interesting to me. That's how miraculous this book is! The book has been give positive reviews from many bloggers that I trust and I went in expecting really big things. The truth is, DQ wasn't what I expect but it was exactly what I needed.

DJ is a fantastically complex female protagonist. She's not flawed as much as burdened by responsibility. She's the ultimate good girl, she does all (and beyond) what is asked of her by her family. She's strong, capable, loyal, hardworking and struggling to keep all her balls in the air. She's an external individual, she rarely realises why she's done something until well after it's occurred. I love this girl but you are constantly waiting for her to buckle under the strain of her life.

The introduction of Brian onto the Schwenk's farm combined with the recent family division and inability to speak honestly with one another, upsets the balance of DJ's life. DJ isn't what you would call an internal person, she's exactly like the cows that Brian relates her to. His presence in her life, as her football pupil, brings a certain amount of self awareness that she didn't possess previously. It allows her to see her life and her family from an external perspective, which ultimately acts as a catalyst for a huge decision about what she wants.

Despite my relatively brief discussion, this story covers the gamut of themes in a natural, flowing style that allows room for humour. DJ's interest in football brings up the expected sexuality and equality themes, as well as the importance of communication, confidence, support and love.

An awesome, empowering read.

Published: 2006
Format: Paperback, 278 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Origin: USA
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Library Lounge Lizard said...

I loved this book! The sequel is great too...middle school girls can't get enough of this book, I had to buy like 5 copies just to keep them from hassling me on a daily basis!

a flight of minds said...

Gaah. Dairy Queen is adorable. I want to reread the sequel. And I really want Front and Center, the third one.

Glad you really liked the book. And great review!

- Alex