“The Off Season” and “Front and Center” (Dairy Queen #2 & 3), by Catherine Gilbert Murdock.
So since I read these next two books in the Dairy Queen series back to back, I figured I’d just review them together. Because the odds of me being able to remember what happened in which book is slim. I also decide to skip my usual Goodreads summaries because . . . let’s face it: two summaries would’ve been waaay too much. But so you’re caught up summary-wise, basically in “The Off Season,” everyone gets injured: DJ’s brother gets seriously hurt in a football game, her mom throws out her back, and DJ herself injures her shoulder. So DJ has a lot to deal with, since as usual she seems to be the one to end up with all the responsibilities. And she’s dealing with Brian Nelson drama. In “Front and Center,” football season is over and DJ is playing basketball, which she’s phenomenal at so she’s being scouted by different college programs. Only all the pressure is stressing DJ out, and on top of that she has to sort out once and for all whether she wants to be with Brian Nelson.
Phew. I’m reminded why I never write my own summaries. Anyway, for a trilogy that’s probably 80 percent sports, I really enjoy it. Which I probably wouldn’t have assumed if I knew from the beginning that there was going to be so much sports. But DJ is just so gosh darn likeable. I would 100 percent want to be friends with DJ in real life. Even if we don’t have anything in common since basically her whole world is sports and her family’s dairy farm. But still, I just really admire her—she gets shouldered with way more responsibility than any 16-year-old should ever have (especially in “The Off Season”), but she never gets bitter about it. She just deals with it. Plus, the way her narrative voice is written has plenty of personality, but not so much that it’s distracting. So kudos to Catherine Gilbert Murdock for that.
The 20 percent of these two books that isn’t about sports is about Brian Nelson drama. I’m honestly still a bit torn about Brian. Because while he definitely makes a fantastic friend, I don’t know that even by the end of book 3 I was convinced that he’d make a good boyfriend for DJ. But I guess he’s trying to change, so he gets points for that. One of the things that I’ve really liked about this series is that the romance doesn’t take over the storyline. Sure, there’s some drama, but DJ has way too many other things on her plate for her to let boys take over her life.
Overall, I think the word I’d use to describe these books is “cute.” They’re just so adorable. And although I liked book 1 the best, I think they’re actually pretty consistent in terms of quality. Plus they’re pretty inoffensive in pretty much every possible way, so I feel like I can recommend them to anyone.
Ratings: both 3.5 / 5
Other books in this series
The Dairy Queen