by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Dairy Queen trilogy; book III
I actually read this series out of order (I had no idea I was doing that) but that was a few years ago and I've been meaning to read this for a while. I remember loving the characters in the first two, Dairy Queen and The Off Season.
After five months of sheer absolute craziness I was going back to being plain old background D.J. In photographs of course I’m always in the background . . .
But it turns out other folks have big plans for D.J. Like her coach. College scouts. All the town hoops fans. A certain Red Bend High School junior who’s keen for romance and karaoke. Not to mention Brian Nelson, who she should not be thinking about! Who she is done with, thank you very much. But who keeps showing up anyway ...
My Expectations: Not too high, I didn't remember too many details from books 1 and 2, but I did hope this wouldn't be a let down.
Delivery: Oh gosh, there was so much stuff I loved about it! Definitely better than what I expected.
Put-down-ability: will expand on this later, but it was so engaging, 2/10
If a book like Revolution is like slipping on an old pair of jeans, then Front and Center is like putting in my headphones and playing my favourite song. So easy and so beautiful in its simplicity. Because Front and Center is not necessarily a complicated book, but the way Murdock managed to package everything together truly made it amazing.
This final instalment in the Dairy Queen trilogy is all about D.J. and her future, she has a ton of options on where she wants to play university ball, and this scares the bejeezus out of he— and it should. She reacts to so many things in such a teen manner that makes her story very refreshing. And she has her own life to deal with as well, following her heart, dealing with her family and playing basketball.
D.J. Schwenk is on my list of characters I’d love to meet, there is the essence about her that makes her so damn real and one of my favourite female protagonists ever. Murdock doesn’t need to spell out her personality, her courage or her determination, because once you read about D.J.'s words, these just become default. Her voice in the novel is just incredible, so authentic yet distinctive, there’s a touch of familiarity and the style that easily pulled me into the story. It’s definitely the writing that kept me flipping the pages wanting to know what happens next.
I’d like to touch on the romance, because it honestly is one of the best ones I’ve read about in a long time. No, we don’t have the swoony boy quotes (or do we?...xD) but the thing is that the words coming out of Beaner and Brian’s mouths sound legit. It’s not poetry, it’s awkward boy-speak, and it felt like a breath of fresh air when even these lovely boys don’t say the perfect thing. And they have flaws. Watching Brian mature through these three books gives me hope for YA romance's future. People can be jerks, and people can grow up too.
I can’t recommend this series enough, it really is one of the best contemporary series out there in a sea of ones full of emotional baggage and fluffy charm. This one just feels real with a protagonist that I admire the heck out of and storylines that rock.
Rating in HP Terms: Exceeds Expectations
Recommended for: people looking for YA with Sports (!), an awesome protagonist and and excellent teen voice.
Acknowledgmenets: very lovely, 4.5/5
8.8/10 - because it is a great ending to a great series. I thought D.J's development as a character was fantastic through the series and this book, especially the way her self-confidence grew. The writing is extremely engaging and D.J.'s narration is something I will seriously miss; I'll miss know what happens to her and all I can do now is cross my fingers that Murdock might write another novel featuring this girl.