Monday, May 5, 2008

The Off Season by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Main Character: High School junior D.J. Schwenk
Location: small town Wisconsin
Time period: Contemporary
Genre: YA Fiction, Sports--Football
Series: sequel to Dairy Queen

At the end of Dairy Queen, D.J. had decided to try out for her school's football team. She makes the team and is well accepted by the boys. The only complication is that her sort-of boyfriend, Brian, is the quarterback for her school's biggest rival and they will inevitably have to play against each other. Off the field, there is another complication with Brian. When they are alone on her family's farm or on long drives, they get along fine, but when Brian is with his friends he pretends he hardly knows her. As hard as that is, her problems are only going to get worse this year. She injures her shoulder in a game, and is told that if she continues to play football she will not heal well enough to play basketball. That choice becomes moot when one of her older brothers, now playing college football, is seriously injured in a game, and D.J. is the one that stays with him in the hospital as he tries to face the possibility that he is paralyzed.

The first book was a blend of humor and romance. This one takes a darker tone, and I ached for D.J. She is so young to have to shoulder the burdens of her whole family; she is strong but she does have a breaking point. I certainly hope that life treats her better in the third book, which, according to the author's website, is currently in progress and due out Fall 2009. I can hardly wait.

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