Cover of Dairy Queen, with a black and white cow wearing a tiara

About the Book

Title: Dairy Queen (Dairy Queen #1)
The Off Season (Dairy Queen #2)
Front and Center (Dairy Queen #3)
Published: 2006
Series: Dairy Queen
Swoonworthy Scale: 5

BFF Charm: Yay!
Talky Talk: Straight Up With a Slice of Wisconsin Cheese
Bonus Factor: Friday Night Lights
Relationship Status: #1 Fan

The Deal:

When I was in high school, the idea of failing a class was, like, my worst nightmare. For D.J. Schwenk, however, it’s simply pocket change from a really sucky year. As the oldest sibling left on her family’s struggling dairy farm, D.J. has to deal with shizz that makes pre-cal look like a walk in the park (er, field?), including twice a day milkings (what!) and barn deep-cleanings (gross!). As if manual labor wasn’t tough enough, she now has to work alongside Brian Nelson, the star player of her high school rival’s football team and an all-around tool of a dude. Brian’s coach wants him to learn the “value of hard work,” but before too long, D.J., a natural athlete, finds herself teaching Brian less about farming and more about playing football.

As the books progress, D.J. is forced to examine her own passion for playing sports, her growing interest in Brian, and her role in shaping the future of the farm and, more importantly, her family.

BFF Charm: Yay!

Yay BFF Charm

Y’all, I have to admit something to you. If I met D.J. when I was in high school, we would not have been friends, because I was one of those super nerds with a dash of drama club (double whammy of geekdom), which means I pretty much feared all athletes. D.J. would have totally intimidated me with her height (girl is a HOSS on the basketball court), not to mention her fierce athleticism. But see, avoiding D.J. would have been a huge mistake on my part, because she’s not your stereotypical jock. First of all, she’s the hardest working YA character I’ve ever read. Second, her confidence level is at, like, green (that’s low, in case you don’t speak Homeland Security), and instead of sitting at the cool table, D.J. mostly loners it up with her bff Amber, who is basically the black sheep of the school.

In reality, D.J. is just like anyone else in high school. She’s trying to figure out who she is and where she fits in, and for the most part, there doesn’t seem to be a place for her. But instead of whining about it (like I would), she just throws herself into working on the farm and playing sports, and she does it all with a fantastic sense of humor. This is the kinda girl you can root for, both on and off the field.

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Without getting too spoilery on you, there is definitely some serious sparkage between D.J. and Brian, esp. given their competitive natures (did somebody say, The Cutting Edge?!!!). I love the fact that the style of this book is pretty realistic, which means less of the sparkly vampire type of I WOULD DIE FOR YOU shizz and more of the angst-filled, “Does he like me?!” moments (awkward is the new sexy, as far as I’m concerned). Don’t mistake my medium scoring for a lack of super hot tension, cos there’s plenty of that, but the book focuses more on the reality of starting up and maintaining a relationship in high school (i.e. it can crazy suck!).

Talky Talk: Straight Up With a Slice of Wisconsin Cheese

D.J.’s voice rings loud and clear from the very first page of the book, and I admit, her rural Wisconsin stream of consciousness can take some getting used to. In spite of a few too many detours into “aw shucks!” territory, I found Murdock’s style to be extremely authentic and totally charming. From D.J.’s farmer-turned-gourmet-chef dad to Beaner, the immature yet adorable skinny dude we ALL knew in high school, each character’s voice is unique and well-developed, making the conversations in this book completely believable and utterly compelling.

Bonus Factor: Friday Night Lights

A football sitting on the grass of a football field.

When I first began watching Friday Night Lights, (a.k.a. the best show on television), I experienced a major epiphany: even though I hate watching real sports, I LOVE watching fictional sports!!!! Cos I actually care about the characters, and so there’s all of this suspense and dramz and I end up doing a lot of fist pumping, which is way more acceptable in front of a TV than it is on the city bus with a book in your other hand. Anyway, the point is, there’s a lot of sports in this book, but I enjoyed every second of it because Murdock made me root SO HARD for D.J.

There’s a few other reasons for my choice of FNL as the bonus factor but… no spoilers! I refuse!

Relationship Status: #1 Fan

As far as I’m concerned, the Dairy Queen Trilogy is an all-star MVP. Like any killer game, it made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me yell and scream and cheer like a crazy person. In fact, I’m such a fan of D.J. Schwenk, I would do anything to support her, from holding a bake sale (twist my arm!) to joining the freaking drill team (that’s saying a LOT, y’all). And if anyone dares to say they don’t like these books, I will beat them over the head with my huge foam hand until they promise to buy me a dip cone, which I’ve really been craving since I started writing this review. So, yeah, TEAM D.J. FTW!!!!

Sarah lives in Austin, and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.