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Magan: Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

book review of Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert MurdochDairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (facebook | website)
Publication Date: May 22, 2006
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 275
Target Audience: Young Adult
Keywords: girl playing on male football team, milk farm, sports and training
Format Read: Audiobook purchased from Audible.com

Narrated by: Natalie Moore

Summary: D.J. isn’t the smartest girl there ever was, but one thing she certainly knows is her way around her family’s farm. D.J. was a star basketball player until her family hit a few speed bumps and she was forced to quit the team to help out more. Her father’s friend, Jimmy Ott, recruits D.J. to train his lackluster quarterback, Brian, which leads to a surprising turn of events when D.J. decides to try out for her school’s football team.

Thanks to the fantastic Lori at Pure ImaginationDairy Queen was on my radar. It’s been out in the wonderful world of published books for a few years (a 2006 release) so when I saw her audiobook review, I knew that a) I HAD to read the book, and b) I needed to use one of my audible credits to listen to it as an audiobook. I’m very new to the world of listening to books. In fact, this is only my second to finish. But before I begin chatting about the audio aspect of Dairy Queen, let’s get into the nitty gritty details of D.J.’s life.

Things you should know about D.J.:

  • Her family owns a milk farm. She single-handedly keeps it running and this has forced her to quit her high school basketball team and be pretty distanced from “normal” high school activities.
  • Her brothers are college athletes — athleticism runs in their genes. However, her family’s kind of at an impasse, feuding over something silly and mundane.
  • D.J. isn’t the smartest cookie; she failed her Sophomore English class because she couldn’t possibly keep up with the farm work and school.
  • D.J. attends Red Bend’s high school. Their arch-rival is Holly.

One day D.J. is approached by Jimmy Ott, the Holly football coach and her father’s best friend, about training Brian Nelson. Jimmy suggests that maybe Brian can do some conditioning and farm work so that he can get in better shape, build his character, and simultaneously lend a hand to a family who desperately needs the help. Brian and D.J. are practically complete opposites. He’s popular and well-known. D.J. has a bit of a reputation as a hick. Brian’s got the big headed attitude of an awesome athlete, but he’ll never become more than the backup quarterback if he doesn’t train more. D.J. has raw, natural talent, but the opportunity for her to participate in sports has been taken away from her.

There’s this fantastic dynamic between Brian and D.J. as they try to figure out how two rivals can work together. And you know, of course, there’s this amazing chemistry that flares up but both of them want to ignore. BUT Dairy Queen offers more than just a tense relationship. There’s so much happening with D.J.’s family; they don’t really speak or communicate well. Why is that? And why is D.J’s best friend, Amber, having such a difficult time with D.J. training Brian? Amber has always been a say-what’s-on-her-mind kind of girl, but the things she’s blabbing to D.J. are becoming hurtful.

So there you have it: a rocky friendship with a questionable best friend, a family that needs a little fixin’, and an awesome dose of two very unlikely characters spending tons of time together.

As for the audio, it was spot on. I loved the narrator, Natalie Moore. She really got into D.J.’s character and I think I probably laughed out loud more than I would have if I were speed reading through the pages. Moore captured my husband’s attention, too, as I asked to listen to Dairy Queen while we were driving to Florida. I had to pause the book and explain the characters, setting, and plot so he could follow along with me. (He was asking a million questions.) We both really enjoyed the story — not too girly for him and not too heavy on the football/farm setting for me.

One bonus? There are two more books following Dairy Queen. I didn’t realize there was more when I finished listening, but I’ve just added The Off Season and Front and Center to my audible shopping cart because I’m so anxious for more D.J. and Brian. (And the rest of the gang, too.)

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September 25, 2013 - 9:08 pm

Rebecca - I heard about this series from Lori too and was interested enough to add it to my TBR but now I’m definitely sold. It sounds like a great first book and I hope the series is just as good for you! I’ve never listened to an audiobook right through (I normally only make it through a few minutes at the most) but I might look into Dairy Queen’s but also have the book on hand in case it doesn’t pan out well. Great review, Magan 🙂

September 25, 2013 - 8:29 pm

Amanda @ Late Nights with Good Books - I agree that D.J. isn’t necessarily book smart, but I think she’s still intelligent. She also just doesn’t prioritize the educational system because she has so many other things on her plate, I think. I enjoyed this trilogy a lot more than I thought I would and I hope you continue to enjoy it as you listen to the second and third installments! I don’t really listen to audiobooks, but I can imagine this one working well via the audio format.

September 25, 2013 - 7:14 pm

Ellice Y - Yay, I enjoyed Dairy Queen too! I read it for my Young Adult Lit class a couple of years ago. I didn’t realize that it was a series either until recently. Your review of the audiobooks makes me want to get the next 2 and listen to them on my commute to and from work every day! Great review! It made me remember how much I liked this book!

September 25, 2013 - 11:48 am

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - I’m so glad you liked this audiobook. I loved it, too. Like you said, Natalie Moore was spot on getting the character of DJ, and I think I laughed more listening to the audio than I would have reading the book.

September 25, 2013 - 11:27 am

Bonnie - So many of my blogger friends have read this series and loved it but I haven’t been able to get past the fact that it’s basically about farming and sports. lol Seems like such a strange combination but I really think I should give it a try, seems like one of those surprisingly good ones you never would have expected. And it’s funny too? I’ve heard this on audio is a must so I’ll be checking out my library, definitely. Great review, so glad you enjoyed it too!

September 25, 2013 - 9:23 am

Lori - I’m so, so happy that you enjoyed this! D.J. is one of my favorite characters ever. You’re so right, the audio is spot on! I could listen to them again and again.

I hope you love the rest of them just as much. Catherine Gilbert Murdock just released a spin off too. Curtis is in it, I think.

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