Front and Center

Title: Front and Center (Book 3 in Dairy Queen)
Author: Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Publisher: HMH Books
Release Date: Apirl 4, 2011

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 . . .
Readers first fell in love with straight-talking D. J. Schwenk in Dairy Queen; they followed her ups and downs both on and off the court in The Off Season. Now D. J. steps out from behind the free-throw line in this final installment of the Dairy Queen trilogy.

I think the sign of a good series is when you are satisfied with the outcome and the final ending, but the sign of a great series is when you love the ending so much that you want to know what happens next even if the story is all tied up. That’s how I felt about this finale of the trilogy – there were no loose ends from the story, but I still have that anxiety of wanting to know more about what happens next with the characters!

D.J. is a fantastic character, and tells her story so well. I love her voice, and I feel as though her way of putting feelings into words is just amazing. Murdock perfectly describes exactly how D.J. feels so that as a reader, I’m right there with her. When D.J. is nervous and on the verge of breaking down, so am I; when she actually broke down into tears, so did I; when she was touched by little gestures or angry at her older brother, so was I. It was an experience reading this book, because I can’t recall ever being so fully embedded in a character’s head before. Murdock was extremely successful in this aspect of her series.

I loved the plot, too. D.J. continues to grow up, with her family and friends to guide her. She makes mistakes, gets hurt, learns about herself, and is emotional, just like any normal teenager. I love the realism and the way the relationships between the characters make the plot matter just as much as the characterization.

The romance part of the book didn’t exactly head where I had wanted it to, especially since I really wasn’t a fan of Brian at the end of The Off Season, but somehow Murdock pulled it off without getting me too upset. (That might be due to the fact that it didn’t upset D.J. overly much, either). However, D.J. has a future, that won’t be described to me in a book (at least not specifically in a book about and narrated by D.J.), so I can use my imagination until I can get my hands on Murdock’s book Heaven is Paved with Oreos about Curtis’s girlfriend Sarah!

I highly recommend this series – the books are relatively quick reads, but are excellentely written and take you on an emotional journey with D.J. and the Schwenks that you will not regret.

~Yours Truly

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