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:
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.