Title: The Off Season (Book 2 in Dairy Queen)
Author: Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Publisher: HMH Books
Release Date: May 22, 2007
Life is looking up for D.J. Schwenk. She’s in eleventh grade, finally. After a rocky summer, she’s reconnecting in a big way with her best friend, Amber. She’s got kind of a thing going with Brian Nelson, who’s cute and popular and smart but seems to like her anyway. And then there’s the fact she’s starting for the Red Bend High School football team—the first girl linebacker in northern Wisconsin, probably. Which just shows you can’t predict the future. As autumn progresses, D.J. struggles to understand Amber, Schwenk Farm, her relationship with Brian, and most of all her family. As a whole herd of trouble comes her way, she discovers she’s a lot stronger than she—or anyone—ever thought.
This hilarious, heartbreaking and triumphant sequel to the critically acclaimed Dairy Queen takes D.J. and all the Schwenks from Labor Day to a Thanksgiving football game that you will never forget.
This sequel to Dairy Queen was fantastic! I liked the change of setting, considering that there were a lot less scenes that involved cows present and that there are only so many thoughts a person can have while milking. The book focused on other issues, including family, sports, injuries, love, friends, and much more that you’ll have to read the book to find out about.
The story kept up it realism, which I appreciated. D.J.’s family had it’s own brand of dysfunctionality, but it gave a better sense of them to the readers and developed their characters a lot more. I liked the fact that D.J. was essentially the same person, but her changing outlook on life that had started in the first book continued in this one. I also called the fact that this book had a lot more of Win in it, although it turns out that I like Bill better as an older brother. D.J.’s metaphors and comparisons also have a lot of relevance, again, and there are things that she figures out and puts into words that I know certain people could use to listen to and take to heart. She also grows up a lot in this book, dealing with her family and all the problems that they face; there are young people and even full-grown adults I know who wouldn’t not have been able to deal with her life in the capable way she did, despite the emotional roller-coaster she experienced.
The romantic aspects of the book were interesting, but a little predictable at the same time. I’m sort of glad it happened the way it did; without giving too much away, I hope my prediction for the next book and D.J.’s romantic interests are right and that things continue the way they seem to be heading. D.J. needed this romantic experience, as well as the strength-of-character experience that she both learned and gained from it.
I also liked the conflict that came up with football, and even though I wish things had turned out differently, everything was realistically set and I got seriously invested in D.J.’s future, all things considered. Basically, this was a fantastic sequel, and I can’t wait to start in on the third book; the author has done an awesome job, and I can’t imagine it getting better (even though I’m sure it will)!
*Note: Due to mild sexual content and profanity, I do not recommend this book to readers under the age of 12.