Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock is a book that comes highly recommended by my friend Michelle of See Michelle Read. I’ve been reading one fantasy novel after another the past few days so I decided to pick up a contemporary one for some variety. I’ve wanted to read this for some time but it wasn’t available in the major bookstores here in the metro. Good thing I was able to grab a copy from Book Sale, a used bookstore, for just P20 (less than half a US dollar).

Here’s the summary from Catherine Gilbert Murdock’s website:

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 to herself that maybe he’s right. Because it’s obvious that no one it talking about why D.J.’s 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, or why her college-football- star brothers won’t even call home nowadays. And certainly no one is talking about how D.J.’s dad would go ballistic if she tried out for the football team. There’s definitely a lot not being said. And that’s not even mentioning why Brian is so out of D.J.’s 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.

D.J. Schwenk is a teenage girl born and raised in a farm. Because her dad got injured and her brothers are too busy with their college lives to come home, D.J. is in charge of all the farm work this summer. She only has her younger brother Curtis to help her out and he seldom does that because he’s busy with baseball. Sure, she could use an extra hand but she doesn’t want it from Brian Nelson, the snotty quarterback from her school’s rival, Hawley. It goes against her principles because her family is big on the local football scene and besides, she just doesn’t like the guy. She decides to give in when she talks to Brian’s coach, who’s like an uncle to her, and realizes that helping out with farm work is part of Brian’s training to become a better football player. I know next to nothing about both farming and football. Farming here in the Philippines means rice fields and carabaos instead of cows. Also, football is a sport that never became popular here. Even though I was clueless about the two most important aspects of D.J.’s life, I never got confused reading her story because she manages to make farming and football interesting.

Dairy Queen is a coming-of-age of age tale that talks about the usual issues any teenage girl deals with – friendships, attraction, relationships, family problems and a whole lot of other stuff. In D.J.’s case, her family has always dealt with problems by not talking about it. So D.J. isn’t much of a talker. Whenever she feels like complaining about doing all of the work in their farm, she just swallows her words because that’s what they do in their household. Brian changes that because by spending time with him, D.J. realizes that it can be easy and therapeutic and yes, even fun, to talk about her feelings. I enjoyed reading about D.J. as she forms her own realizations about people – I liked how she compared everyone to cows because from what she’s observed, people tend to just do what’s expected of them. While I didn’t fall in love with this contemporary YA novel, it’s something that I’d recommend to fans of the subgenre because I’ve always liked sporty teenage girls, maybe because I envy them and I want to be like them. I also liked where this one ended so I might not pick up the sequels unless I find bargain copies.

Other reviews: (manually generated)
Steph Su Reads
Persnickety Snark
The Story Siren

21 thoughts on “Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

  1. I really liked reading your review of this chachic. I felt very much the same way as you (I gave it 3 stars over on goodreads). I enjoyed it ~ but somehow felt a little bit bored in parts and I don’t really know why? I do know most my friends love this one oh-so-much so I found it a little odd that i didn;t. I was expecting to fall in love with it, you know?

    also ~ wow ~ you got a great bargain with it!

    (i haven;t read any of the others either and prob wont… I bought the first one but can;t see myself paying full price for the rest)

    • Thanks Nomes! Good to know that we had a similar reaction to this one. I gave it 3 stars on Goodreads too. I did enjoy reading it but I didn’t love it as much as some of the others did. It’s not that I had problems with the book because it was easy to read, I just wasn’t as enthusiastic about it as I was expecting. Maybe I have high expectations when it comes to contemporary YA?

  2. I’m glad you read this one and sad you didn’t love it – if that makes any sense. For me, I think it was one of the first YA contemp novels that I felt like actually rang true (instead of just some girl finding her true love) and I loved how DJ really struggled with her own sense of self. Also I may be partial to football myself so her family’s obsession with the sport was quite familiar 😉 Mainly I just loved reading about a teenage girl who says to heck with everyone and does exactly what she feels like.

    If you didn’t love this one, then you probably won’t love THE OFF SEASON either – but I did enjoy FRONT & CENTER (#3).

    • Yes, that makes sense. I’m sorry I felt that way too, I wanted to love it as much as you did. I did like D.J. and how she came to her own. Maybe if I read this when I was younger or if I haven’t read a lot of contemporary YA. And maybe my not knowing anything about football was also a factor? In any case, I’m glad I got to read it based on your recommendation. 🙂

      Thanks for the tip about the sequel! Might not pick it up then unless I find really affordable copies.

  3. I really need to pick up the Dairy Queen series. I guess because I am into football and grew up in a small town I think these books will speak to me.

    Sucks that you didn’t fall in love with Dairy Queen, but hey it happens.

    • If you’re a football fan then I have a feeling you’ll like it a lot more than I did. I look forward to hearing what you think!

      Yeah, it happens. It would be boring if we all felt the same way about all books.

  4. You got this for just P20? I think my copy was more expensive!

    DJ sounds like my kind of girl! Even though you didn’t love it, I’m looking forward to reading this.:)

    • Yes, I got it for just P20! Great bargain, right? I think I bought it from the Book Sale in Cubao after an FBB meet up.

      I hope you get to read this soon, I did like it but you might end up loving it more. 🙂

  5. Don’t you just love Booksale finds? If I come across this in Booksale, I might pick it up. Was that in the YA/kids section or in general fiction?

    Also, I’m assuming that the football in this book is American football and not what’s known as soccer over there and football in the rest of the world?

    BTW, I’ve left the copy of The Firebrand with the girl at the counter of Books for Less already. Just ask for the paid book with the message for chachic from kim. ^_^

    • Book Sale finds are awesome! Or actually used books in general because they’re a lot cheaper than new ones. I found it in the paperback section so in general fiction?

      Yes, it’s American football and not soccer. I would’ve been more familiar with soccer because we played that for P.E. in high school.

      Thanks again for getting that copy for me! I’ll drop by the Books for Less store later on my way home. I hope I find some other books to buy there.

      • Booksale finds are the best. In fact, since I started working, a lot of the books I’ve bought have been Booksale buys due to the proximity of the branches to my office. I also started accumulating a lot more romance books that I would not otherwise have bought new at National/Powerbooks/Fully Booked. There’s less risk trying out a new author based on an interesting blurb if the book was bought used rather than new, don’t you think (hence the 10 peso copy of Firebrand from Books for Less)?

        My latest (and most fun) Booksale find was just bought yesterday-a 45 peso copy of the smart bitches’ “Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels”.


        I’ve browsed through it already and it’s hilarious!

      • Oh, I had no idea that the Smart Bitches have their own book. I follow their blog because they’re funny, even though I don’t read a lot of romance.

        Yes to Book Sale finds! Although that is why I usually go for books that are highly recommended by bloggers that I trust, those who have similar taste as I do in books. Less risk involved when I buy books. 🙂

        Thanks again for Firebrand.

      • The Smart Bitches *are* funny. Love their snarky dialog. And they’re not afraid to poke fun at themselves and at the genre either. I’m not a die-hard romance reader myself (although I do have my favorite romance authors whose backlist and new books I always look out for), and I haven’t read a lot of the authors/books they mention in their book, especially the old school ones. But I do get the gist of it from the way they discuss things.

        Hope you manage to bring home some new finds after your trip to Books for Less later. Happy hunting!

      • Hehe. As I said, it’s only good as a reading copy. But if you like it, you could always buy a new copy when you’re done. The Centris branch really doesn’t compare to the old Roces branch, doesn’t it? Oh well.

  6. I’m sorry you didn’t love this. I read it awhile ago too and I don’t trust my judgement as much from that time. I do know and love American football, maybe that makes a difference? I listened to the audio book instead of reading it as well.

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