Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Dairy Queen by: Catherine Gilbert Murdock

     I was in a reading slump one day and ran into a post over at Leila's blog. A friend had written in and said:
    "I'm trying to choose a book to read to a group of 16-18-yr-old girls. They're my summer campers, I read them a book every year - usually featuring a strong, funny female protagonist. Do you have any ideas for a book I could reasonably read out loud in 5 or 6 days?"

    Leila recommended Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock and then opened it up for any other suggestions from her readers. Lots of readers chimed in while I feverishly scribbled down titles and authors adding many books to my TBR pile. Feeling like a kid at a candy store not knowing which sweets to try first I decided to settle down with Dairy Queen.
    D.J. Schwenk has taken over the responsibilities of the old farm, milking fourteen times a week and keeping the ancient barn that probably belongs in a museum up and running. When Brian Nelson, the lazy Hawley back-up quarter back is sent to the Schwenk farm to learn some good old work ethic D.J. wonders what she ever did in the past life to deserve such bad luck.
    With two older brothers away being college football stars, a father with a broken hip, a mother running herself to the ground with being a teacher/substitute principal and a little brother who is almost mute D.J. can't help but compare herself to the cows she milks twice a day.     
    Armed with an inner voice like Oprah Winfrey, a best friend who can make you laugh until your insides hurt and an absurd wish to join the football team D.J. has her ducks quite set out for her.

    I'm not one who's too big on the sports reads or much on the farming ones for that matter, but make no mistake when I say this book is the stuff of awesomeness. With D.J.'s wit, humor, and personality she hits the description of  "a strong funny, female protagonist" on the head. Dairy Queen was a treat that had me going back for seconds. I couldn't believe this was Murdock's debut novel, she got D.J.'s voice spot on, so much I thought she was a cow farmer or sports player herself, if not a teenager.
     While the book is filled with a light sarcastic air highlighted with D.J.'s awesome inner voice and personality, the book also has some weighty stuff. Being in a family where talking is, well, a rare occurrence if one at all D.J. isn't too surprised at her little brothers' silence. But why her brothers have never called home or even talked to the family since the fight with dad is still a mild surprise for D.J. While D.J. has her plate full with you know, running the farm and all at just 15 years old, her voice is never "woe is me" or self-pittying.
    This book is definitely going under my best discoveries of 2010 . Humor well written, is hard to find in books. So much of the humor is in the delivery of it, the sound of voice or visual that goes along with it, so reading it in books more often than not, is a hit and miss for me. This my friends was a definite hit. I am on my way now to pick up the sequel, Off Season. So run along, grab a milkshake with one of those nice bendy straws so that you can sip as you read. 
    This whole enormous deal wouldn't have happened, none of it, if Dad hadn't messed up his hip moving the manure spreader. Some people laugh at that, like Brian did. The first time I said Manure Spreader he bent in half, he was laughing so hard. Which would have been hilariously funny except that it wasn't. I tried to explain how important a manure spreader is, but it only made him laugh harder, in this really obnoxious way he has sometimes, and besides, you're probably laughing now too. So what. I know where you milk comes from, and your hamburgers.
    I'll always remember the day it all started because Joe Namath was so sick. Dad names all his cows after football players. It's pretty funny, actually, going to the 4-H fair, where they list the cows by farm and name. right there next to "Happy Valley Buttercup" is "Schwenk Walter Payton," because none of my grandpas or great-grandpas could ever come up with a name for our place better than boring old "Scwenk Farm."
    I'm not a big fan of the photographed people on the covers of books, but these ones aren't too bad, I actually really like them, well the first two anyway. generally speaking, I like it when there's a bit of ambiguity when it comes down to the specific characteristics of the cover models face, well because you build your own idea of the characters in your head when you read the book.


jen7waters said...

Here I am!:D

This book sounds like my kind of comfort reading(one of them at least)...I love funny and witty female leads, so I think I'll check this one out, I could I not? you make it sound so good:D

jen7waters said...

*how (ups!)

KIKA said...

Hi Carla! *waves* so glad you stopped in, yes this one was a treat! Can't wait to hear what you think :)

Michelle said...

I LOVE this series. I love how insecure yet strong DJ is. Can't wait to hear your thoughts on the rest of the series, it finishes real strong.

KIKA said...

Oh Michelle! I truly am loving this series! and oh DJ, how I love her :D