Even if I weren’t setting up links for the blog, I’d have searched “Catherine Gilbert Murdock” to see what else I could find out about her and other books by her. Dairy Queen, it turns out, was her first book. It has a sequel, “The Off Season,” which is now on my Recommended Reading list. It’s not available through Listen Alaska, which is how I found Dairy Queen, so I’ll have to get it elsewhere.
For years and years when I was a kid, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say, “a farmer.” Lots of my friends were farmers. One, Sherri, hated it when I’d go over to her house and ask to do her chores. I loved feeding calves. At some point, I switched my career choice to “professional camp counselor,” but “farmer” was never out of the running, which pretty much explains my pet sitting, blueberry picking, fishing, and gardening, don’t you think?
These same farmer friends had the distinguished honor of running for Farm Queen at the County Fair. Sigh. There was no Summer Camp Queen equivalent. Or Teachers’ Kid Queen, for that matter. I was shut out of that world. And then there came Dairy Queen. I snatched that baby up the moment I saw that gorgeous tiaraed cow! Be warned, though, the tiara has nothing to do with the story, only the title. I would have been disappointed, but I liked the story enough to forgive the misleading cover. Authors have little to no say in their book covers; blame the art director or marketing director or any number of other people who actually have some say in the matter.
It’s true that I was probably predisposed to like this book; I find the whole farm theme engaging. The other theme of this book, however, is football, which goes hand-in-hand with farming and the midwest. At first glance, the whole girl-playing-football thing struck me as a little cliche, but Catherine handled it well, making it the most natural thing in the world for D.J. to want to do. I enjoy playing football myself, so it’s not that I thought the situation was unbelievable (not at all), but more that I didn’t want it to be yet another example of girls vs boys, and girls can do anything if they want to. I’m happy to say that was not the point of the girl-playing-football plot. D.J. played football because that’s what she really wanted to do; she wasn’t out to prove anything.
This had a Meg Cabot-y romance to it, but what I liked best was simply D.J., the main character. She’s not a typical YA MC. She’s wonderfully normal, for a farm girl with three brothers. I can’t imagine a lot of teen girls who would want to be her, but I can imagine they would like her and admire her and maybe want to be her friend. I sure did.
As I often do, I linked the book title to a review at Teenreads.com. Okay, I did it there, too. Check it out.