BookBrowse Reviews Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

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Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
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  • First Published:
    May 2006, 278 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2007, 278 pages

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A painfully funny novel....a fresh teen voice, great football action and cows - this novel rocks.

From the book jacket: "When you don't talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said."  Harsh words indeed, from Brian Nelson of all people. But, D. J. can't help admitting, maybe he’s right.  Stuff like why her 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. Why her college-football-star brothers won't even call home. Why her dad would go ballistic if she tried out for the high school football team herself. And why Brian is so, so out of her league.  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.

Comment: If we had a category for great books that almost got away, Dairy Queen would be on it.  Published in hardcover in May 2006, it sat on the shelf above my desk for a couple of months, bringing a smile to my face every time I looked at the cow on the cover (sadly, there is no quizzical cow on the paperback jacket, instead the publisher has chosen an image of two teens, which is likely to be of more appeal to the intended target audience, but not to their mothers!) Eventually, I started to read Dairy Queen to our two children at our "morning reading parties" (the magical half-hour we take out at the start of each school day when they climb into our bed to be read to).

We got a couple of chapters in before they decided that the storyline was a little too "teenage" for them (they were 11 and 13 at the time), so Dairy Queen got set aside again;  the only difference being that this time the cow was  staring at me in the morning when I woke! Finally, I found a couple of quiet hours to finish the story myself,  and what a delight it is.  D.J. is a heroine to root for - funny, intelligent, independent and self-deprecating.  I thoroughly recommend Dairy Queen (the first of a planned trilogy) to teenage girls - and if the occasional boy could bring himself to read it, he might not only enjoy it but would glean more about the female psyche than he'll learn from any number of locker room discussions!

This review was originally published in October 2006, and has been updated for the June 2007 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.



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