The Off Season by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
After playing varsity linebacker in her school’s opening football game and scoring a touchdown on an interception, DJ Schwenk starts the school year feeling upbeat. But after People magazine publishes an article about her, all the attention embarrasses her. A shoulder injury in football puts her basketball season in danger, especially since her only chance of affording college will be on an athletic scholarship. All these problems become minor when her brother Win, in college on a football scholarship, is badly injured. DJ keeps Win company in the hospital and rehab. Trying to lift his spirits becomes DJ’s fulltime job until her parents get some help for the family’s farm and can join Win and DJ. As the family adjusts to what has become their “new normal,” their relationships shift to accommodate everyone’s new roles.
Ms. Murdock makes DJ such a true-to-life character that I feel like she could be a student at Berkeley High. Another feature I like about the book is the humor that keeps popping up, even in serious situations. This book is the sequel to Dairy Queen.
Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Third in the Dairy Queen series. DJ Schwenk returns to high school after Thanksgiving, having missed 27 days of school caring for her injured brother Win. DJ wants nothing more than to return to being in the background in school and her hometown, but her brother’s injury and her prominence after playing football won’t allow that to happen. After learning that she has to contact college coaches who are interested in her in order to start the scholarship process, DJ works hard to overcome her shyness. At the same time she has two boys interested in dating her, a situation she never expected would happen to her. By the end of the book DJ has followed both her brothers’ and friends’ advice plus her own instinct and learned much about herself and how to achieve her goals.
DJ has become such a real person to me that I’m sorry this is the last book in the series. All the characters, from her family to her friends to her coaches and the people in her town have true to life personalities. I really want to know what will happen to them next. The author adds humor to both serious and minor situations, which I really liked.
Reviewed by Ms. Goldstein-Erickson