Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Mock Printz: Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Title: Dairy Queen
Author: Catherine Gilbert Murdock
ISBN: 0-618-68307-0
Starred review in: KLIATT (May), PW (May 15), VOYA (June)
Review: Welcome to Red Bend, Wisconsin, where you can breathe our dairy air. And does sixteen-year-old D.J. Schwenk ever know about dairy farming. With her brothers away at college, her mother tied up in her new job, and her father unable to keep the family farm running, it's up to D.J. to milk cows, keep the fields maintained, and get all the other farm chores done. By herself. In addition to going to school and making a faint attempt at doing homework and hanging out with her best friend, Amber. Well, never mind about Amber. They're not talking much these days, anyway.

While milking thirty-two cows a day, D.J. takes on the job of training Hawley High School's star quarterback, Brian Nelson, for the upcoming football season. D.J.'s older brothers, both football players, have taught her a lot about the game, and amid a field of cow pies a romance begins to blossom. At the same time, D.J. starts to envision a better life than just doing what she's told and, as she puts it, "being a
go along doing what they're supposed to do without complaining or even really noticing, until they die." Football gives D.J. strength and identity, and with these new traits she can weather teen dramas and family revelations.

I found this book charming, with plenty of depth but very little of the melodrama. Of course, my memories of living in Wisconsin may color things a little. But the small Midwestern town is perfectly captured, and D.J.'s work ethic is inspiring. My only complaint about the book is the ending, which left me feeling somewhat betrayed. (Also, I've already read Rats Saw God.) I wouldn't vote against this for the Mock Printz, but I wouldn't vote for it, either.
Reviewed by: Carlie W., BCCLS

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