Murdock, Catherine Gilbert. Dairy Queen: a Novel. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. Print. ISBN: 9780618683079
“Because as it turns out- and I’m sure this won’t be a revelation to anyone out there with half a brain, even though it was to me- that life isn’t all about football.” D.J Schwenk is just an ordinary teenage girl... if you call working a dairy farm, having a family who really doesn’t “talk” to each other, and playing football ordinary. It all starts off when a family friend, who happens to the football coach for D.J.’[s rival school, asks D.J. to train his star quarterback, Brian Nelson. As they train through the summer, D.J. realizes how much she loves playing football and how much she wants to play for the school. It gets complicated when D.J. starts falling for Brian. Can they find a way to make it work on and off the field?
When a book claims to be a sports book, the reader does not think there will be a complex story line. What Dairy Queen does is take a girl who has to quit basketball because she has to help on her family farm. Add in a cute quarterback who she is training, a desire to play football on her hometown team, a best friend that thought they were dating, and a family feud, and you have the multi-layered story created by Catherine Gilbert Murdock. As confident as D.J. is in her ability to train Brian, you would think that would transfer to the times she needs to talk with her family. D.J. is a girl that anyone can connect with, as well as someone you want to get to know better. While the setting is in Wisconsin, you can see this story happening in any small town. The Booklist review says, “This humorous, romantic romp excels at revealing a situation seldom explored in YA novels, and it will quickly find its place alongside equally well-written stories set in rural areas, such as Weaver's Full Service (2005), Richard Peck's The Teacher's Funeral (2004), and Kimberly Fusco's Tending to Grace (2004).” After readers finish this book, they will be dying to read the next two installments.
Many readers do not understand what working on a dairy farm entails. Students could research the hours, labor, and other responsibilities that come with being the only person working on a small dairy farm. Then I would have them draw up what their typical day during the summer looks like. The students could compare and contrast how different each life is and how they are the same.
"Dairy Queen." Booklist 102.15 (2006). Title Wave. Follett Library Resources, Inc., 1 Apr. 2006. Web. 24 Oct. 2010. http://titlewave.com/search?SID=4a2dfba13ce04a99c5590a402a637c18.