Monday, July 31, 2006

Dairy Queen

Book: Dairy Queen
Author: Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Published: 2006

D.J. Schwenk’s not one to complain. Ever since her dad busted his hip, her younger brother got all wound up in summer sports, and her two older brothers quit coming home from college, she’s stuck basically running her family’s dairy farm. But she doesn’t protest, because that’s not what you do in the Schwenk family. In the Schwenk family, you keep your head down and keep going.

When D.J. gets saddled with summer help in the form of one Brian Nelson, she's very annoyed. She doesn't want to babysit some stuck-up quarterback, whining about all this work. To make things, he's the quarterback for her hometown's deadliest rival. What did she ever do to deserve this?

But Brian Nelson doesn't turn out to be the complete and total pain in the behind she was expecting. Sure, he whines a little, yeah, he’s not really the best worker in the whole world. But he does do one thing that nobody’s ever managed . . . he gets D.J. to start talking, really talking, about her life. Once D.J. starts to talk, she also starts to listen . . . and she finds out that a lot of the people she loves have something to say.

Is this a pre-ball Cinderella story? A Romeo-and-Juliet romance? A story about a girl playing football? It could have been any of these things, but instead Catherine Gilbert Murdock lets those settle into subplot status and concentrates on the theme of communication--what happens when we do, when we don’t, when we begin, and when we end.

I also have to note that football is so not my thing, but not only was I able to understand D.J.’s and Brian’s involvement in it, I was able to get into the emotional attachment of a whole town and a single family to a sport. Not bad.

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