08 August 2010

Dairy Queen

Dairy Queen
Catherine Gilbert Murdock

I'm never sure if I read more than the average person, or less than a normal bibliophile, but I feel like I read a lot.  And even though I feel like I read all the time, there are still tons of books I'd like to read and just can't seem to find the time to read them.  So I do what any literature lover would do - I get audiobooks.  I would not recommend audiobooks most of the time - part of my love of reading is the act of getting comfortable and shutting out the world - an act I would not advise while driving.  But in this case, I would highly recommend at least listening to the first disc, or chapter of the audio book (read by Natalie Moore) if only to hear the awesome Wisconsin accent - an accent that I miss terribly since I've moved away from the Midwest.  It is one of the most friendly, unassuming accents in the United States (in my opinion).  Southern accents are all too common, and - to be perfectly honest - I'm always a little afraid that a compliment from someone with a southern accent is actually meant to be criticism.  New York accents make me think of the mafia, and california/surfer accents make me want to sunbathe.  But the Wisconsin/Michigan/Minnesota accents are my favorites.  Might have something to do with  my love of the movies New in Town and Fargo, but it also has to do with my wonderful memories of the amazing people I know from those regions.

Ok, enough about the accent on the audiobook.  The book itself is fantastic - with or without the accent.  It's the story of DJ, a girl whose life has always revolved around two things:  dairy cows and football.  Her older brothers are legendary football players, and she's always loved the game.  Her father runs - or used to run - a dairy farm, but was injured and now DJ and her younger brother do most of (all) the work around the farm.  An old family friend - and the coach of the rival high school Holly - asks DJ to help out his 'star' quarterback, Brian Nelson.  In return for the training help, Brian will help out around the farm doing odd jobs.  DJ reluctantly agrees and not only is a friendship born, but DJ realizes that she has a deep abiding love of football, and just to prove that she can, she decides to go out for the football team.  Dairy Queen is the first in the series of adventures DJ has learning how to actually talk to people, how to deal with life's stress and curveballs, and how to be a female football player.

What caught me about the book is how Murdock used DJ's train of thought and internal monologue to make the reader not only understand her naiveté, but empathize with her.  Thoughts like "You're probably laughing now too.  So what.  I know where your milk comes from, and your hamburgers." DJ is the perfect embodiment of a strong teenage girl - she doesn't care what people think, except when she does.  And in doing something no one else has ever done, DJ does some soul searching to figure out what matters and what doesn't.  She never claims to figure anything out, she just honestly reports what she experiences and how she feels about events and people and people's reactions to events.  She learns not to make assumptions, and learns how hard it is to break free of the assumptions you've made and the assumptions people have made about you.

The rest of the series - Off Season and Front and Center - are definitely on my reading list.  This time, I'll probably sit down with the actual book - now that I have DJ Schwenk's voice in my head to guide me.

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