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Dairy Queen

by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Published by Houghton Mifflin, 2006
278 pages
ISBN: 0618683070

Ages 13-16

D.J. is a 16 year old girl growing up on a dairy farm in Red Bend, Wisconsin. Her family has a lot of communication problems, including the fact that her father doesn’t speak to her two older college-age brothers, who are both gifted football players. Her father also has had a hip replacement, leaving D.J. to assume primary responsibility around the farm. Her Dad’s best friend, the coach of the rival high school football team, sends his star quarterback, Brian, to help D.J. with the farm work, to toughen him up. Knowing how her brothers used to train for football when they were in high school, D.J. begins working as Brian’s trainer and, over the course of the summer finds that she, too, is skilled at football. D.J. is so good, in fact, that she decides to try out for her high school team. She also grows to like Brian – a lot. But her inability to talk about her feelings and her skill on the football field combine to alienate Brian and force D.J. to think hard about what she wants and what she’s willing to do to get it. Murdock’s cast of characters, from major to minor, show depth and credibility, never relying on stereotype. In a novel both funny and moving, the author tackles themes of love, friendship, family, gender and athletics. The strong Wisconsin setting is an added bonus – it is hard to believe that the author has never lived here. (MVL) ©2006 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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