Dairy Queen

Dairy Queen  - Catherine Gilbert Murdock Not what I expected - I expected something very light and funny. This book has much more serious overtones. However, the protagonist, D.J., is wonderful. Her voice is very distinct and unique. She's a mixture of overly mature for her age and sweetly naive and unquestioning.

When D.J.'s father damages his hip, the burden of running their small family dairy farm falls to her. She must give up the sports she loves in order to do the milking, the haying, the manure clean-up. She even ends up failing a class when her farm duties take up so much time she can't get her school work done. And through all of this, D.J. never utters a word of complaint.

But then Brian Nelson shows up at the farm, sent to the Schwenk farm by his coach to trade work for football training. Brian is the quarterback for a rival high school, and D.J. is a football expert despite being a girl. At first she can't imagine spending any time with the spoiled Brian, but over the course of several weeks, the two develop a friendship, and D.J. finds herself with a big crush on a guy she believes would never look at her twice.

Then she gets a great idea - put the football skills she uses to train Brian to good use by joining her own school's football team. She experiences resistance at every turn, but she's determined to finally do something she wants to do rather than always doing what's expected of her. Even if it means making Brian angry.

While I felt sorry for D.J. and think her parents are horrible people for putting so much responsibility on her young shoulders, she never whines or feels sorry for herself. She's a great heroine, and I'm anxious to read the next installment in this series to see what happens to her.