D.J. Schwenk, while not really happy, never complains or questions her life on the family's small dairy farm in Wisconsin. After her father injures himself, the 15-year-old girl must do the farm work almost single-handedly, including milking the cows. She never really noticed the similarities between her life and the lives of the cows. D.J. is a jock, so on top of all her farm chores, she takes on training Brian, the quarterback on a rival school's football team. The summer they spend together changes everything as D.J. discovers that she has lots to say about her life and what she wants out of it.
Synopsis Off Season:
This sequel to Murdock's Dairy Queen catches readers up with narrator D.J. Schwenk as she hits her stride in her junior year of high school. She's playing linebacker for her high school football team, hanging out with Brian (the rival high school's quarterback), earning passing grades, and pulling her weight on her family's struggling dairy farm. But "a whole herd of trouble" is coming her way. First, D.J. and, by extension, Brian become the unwitting subjects of a Peoplemagazine article. Then D.J. suffers a shoulder injury that threatens her sports career, her gay best friend runs away with an older girlfriend, and D.J. notices that Brian isn't too keen on being seen with her in public. These problems are all put into perspective when D.J.'s older brother, Win, suffers a serious spinal-cord injury during a college football game. D.J. stays by his side in the hospital, a task made even tougher by Win's refusal to communicate, and accompanies him to rehab in Minnesota. There's no too-tidy ending here; readers gain a sense of the wait-and-see and grueling nature of physical rehabilitation.
I absolutely loved these two books by Catherine Gilbert Murdock. I am one of those people who loves finding books that I can reread and never get tired of them...and I can now add two more to my collection. She created a family, an envioronment, that is so real you actually think you are in the fields with D.J. or getting slammed on the football field with all the players.
The first book was a fantastic opener into the mind of D.J. Schwenk, a tomboy who lives in the heart of dairyland and who loves football. I was so entranced by the story, I couldn't but the book down (thankfully, I didn't have too!). I completely understood the frustration D.J. had when it came to her family, and her sort of love interest, Brian Nelson. I just wanted to be there to help her through everything, just to make things easier. The second book was a completely new trip for D.J. when her older brother suffers a spinal cord ijury during a football game. She had to go care for him, leaving behind a number of problems back in dairyland (I know, a weird way to reference it, but that is what I call it. Lol). She had finally become the girlfriend of Brian Nelson, she had made the football team, and her family life was even improving. But when D.J. had to give it all up to go be with her brother (okay, granted, she didn't give up on Brian, things just sort of...went arwy) it shows just how much responsiblility she has and how well she is able to handle it.
These books are a great way to show people how strong they can really be when the times calls for it. D.J. had the heart and the courage to persue her dreams, but she had even more heart and courage when it came to being there for her family. D.J.'s story is so easy to relate to; for both teens and adults and I think Catherine Murdock did a fantastic job bringing to life a not to typical teenager with the normal complicated teenage life.