Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Monday, April 11, 2011

Plot Summary:
D.J. Schwenk is the only girl in her family (besides her mother). Not only is she a tom boy, but she knows everything about football since her elder brothers were Red Bend's finest players and her father was a coach. However, because of her father's hip replacement, she is not longer participating in the activities that she loves since she is in charge of all of the chores on the farm; Win and Bill are off at college football camp and her younger brother, Curtis, is too busy with baseball. According to D.J., she lives her life like the cows she cares for until Brian Nelson stepped foot on the farm. A friend of the family, the head coach at Hawley High (Red Bend's rival) asks her to train his back-up quarterback. Stunned by the offer, D.J. is mortified yet interested in whipping this rich, good looking guy into shape. Little does she know that this summer is going to be the one that will change her life forever, especially when she decides to try out for Red Bend Football.

Critical Evaluation:
Catherine Gilbert Murdock takes a plain girl, with very low self-esteem, and turns her into a champion. D.J. feels that she will never escape Schwenk farm because no seems to care about her needs and she doesn't have the strength to tell her family how she truly feels. Caught between being the "dutiful daughter" and a fierce competitor, she has a hard time finding her own voice. All her life, she has been in the shadows of her brothers and it is obvious she does not like it. However, when she is asked to train Brian Nelson, she realizes this is the only way she is going to play Football while torturing her "worst enemy." The biggest theme in this story is that no one is what they seem and, in fact, what everyone thought was true is actually a lie. As her world comes tumbling down around her, she puts her energy into the thing she loves most and makes her feel good-- Football. Readers will not only appreciate the humor in all of this madness, but realize that we are really amazing even though we are not all rich, popular, and beautiful.

Information about the Author:
Catherine Gilbert Murdock was grew up on a tiny farm in Connecticut where she spent most of her time in front of an ancient television that only had two channels that just happened to have Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds playing all the time, which Gilbert Murdock can no longer stand (para.1). As a young girl, she was known as the empress of the four shelf YA section since her passions was reading. Murdock also has a famous sibling (Elizabeth Gilbert) so writing is in her genes. According to her website, as to why she wrote Dairy Queen: "Dairy Queen was my first stab at creative writing since high school, not counting several years as a struggling screenwriter (which followed several years as a struggling scholar)" (para. 4).

When asked about writing, and the process itself, Murdock offers this advice:
I unabashedly recommend screenwriting for mastering the art of storytelling; just don’t pin any hopes on seeing your work on the big screen. But you’ll learn so much in the process that this won’t matter. I also recommend, you know, living. I've been passionate about food pretty much my whole life – first eating it, now preparing and then eating it. And so it plays a pretty big role in my writing, and adds so much flavor . . . not literally, of course, but the more you can add that's true, whether it's emotion or geography or gardening (that’s me in the picture above), then the stronger that story is" (para. 4).

Teen Chick Lit

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up

Books Similar to Dairy Queen:

Awards & Recognition:

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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