Friday, October 26, 2012

DAIRY QUEEN by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Author: Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Publisher: Graphia (a Houghton Mifflin imprint)
Release Date: June 4, 2007
Number of Pages: 274
Source of Book: Paperback from my classroom library
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.
I'm not completely sure of my feelings for this book. I'd heard rave reviews of it, and being that I'm in Wisconsin where it takes place, definitely wanted to read it. I enjoyed it for the most part, but at times I was a little bored with it and felt like I was waiting for something to happen. It was a different type of book than I expected it to be. It was more of an inside look at one girl's summer of discovering how to speak up for herself and repair her family relationships. And then there's the football, which was great, and there was a bit of romance, but not quite as much of a focus on that as I expected, I guess. I think the beginning was a bit slow for me and I kept going because I wanted to see what everyone had liked so much, and it did get more exciting in the last part, but it's definitely not as much of a plot-driven book as I guess I prefer.

I did enjoy DJ as a character and all of her inner conversation throughout the book and her observations about things that happened. I appreciated the way that she was so clueless and insecure about some things, and how she reacted when she figured them out. She is a flat-out honest character and a realistic portrayal of a small-town, farm-girl teen and she's very likeable. DJ's voice was very engaging to me the whole time also, in the way that she seemed to be talking directly to the reader, which all became clear in the very last paragraph of the book. All of the characters were intriguing, but it's really all about DJ and her family. The elements of the family dynamics and how things went wrong were some of the most interesting parts of the book for me. The setting also plays an important role as the family farm is where most of the story happens because DJ has had to take over for her injured father.

Overall I'm intrigued enough to maybe read the second book in the series to see if the plotting picks up a little bit, but probably won't make it through if I get the feeling again of waiting for things to happen. There are some strong messages in some of the major and minor stories in DAIRY QUEEN, and it was an enjoyable read, if I had been prepared ahead of time for the type of read it would be as a quieter, subtler type of book.


  1. Well, I love quiet books, myself! And I really enjoyed this sweet and funny story. I don't think every book has to be full of action, with a lot of plot twists and turns. Getting to know DJ as if she were real and seeing what happened with the football team was enough for me.

  2. I liked this one but the third book, Front and Center, is my very favorite of the series :)