D.J. Schwenk is fifteen, and she lives on her family's dairy farm in Red Bend, Wisconsin. D.J. has almost completely taken over all the work on the fa...moreD.J. Schwenk is fifteen, and she lives on her family's dairy farm in Red Bend, Wisconsin. D.J. has almost completely taken over all the work on the farm following an injury to her father. Her mother is working two jobs, her younger brother isn't talking, and her two older bothers, both college football stars, have stayed away despite the family's struggles. The last thing that D.J. wants is help in the form of spoiled, lazy quarterback Brian Nelson, who plays for rival Hawley. Brian's coach wants D.J. to teach him how to work, and when D.J. agrees to train him, she starts to think that maybe she should be the one trying out for the football team.
Any summary of this book is insufficient, because there is so much going on in this novel. Each character is fully developed with his or her own story, and we experience it all through D.J.'s eyes as she struggles through this one amazing summer.
D.J. is an awesome character and a great narrator. She's tough, and she's funny, and she's trying really hard to not think about all the things that are going wrong in her family. She doesn't whine about her circumstances, but it's clear that she's carrying far too many burdens for a girl just turning sixteen. Fortunately, D.J.'s toughness and work ethic carry her through, and her friendship with Brian Nelson changes everything for her, but not in the ways one would expect.
Brian Nelson is one of my favorite boy YA characters ever, and if I had read this book as a teen, I would have been in love. Brian is not perfect; he does several lousy things in Dairy Queen, and since there are two more books, I'm sure he'll mess up again. At the start of the book he is lazy and spoiled, and he's not especially nice to D.J. or her family. But Brian is smart, and he's talented (if untrained), and his mother has turned him into a teenage boy that can actually talk about feelings and problems, which is completely foreign to D.J. D.J.'s family doesn't talk about anything, but Brian forces her to really look at her life, and he is likewise capable of learning and changing as a result of the time that he spends with D.J. Their friendship is a joy to read about, and makes the potential for romance between them that much more wonderful.
What really makes this book awesome is that I could write ten more paragraphs about great parts of this book, be it the family relationships or the description of life in a small town or just D.J.'s unique view of the world. This book is about more than a girl who plays football, or two unlikely friends. It's about the most fully realized character that I've read this year, a fifteen-year-old on the brink of adulthood, with all the wonderful and terrible truths that come with it. This is absolutely not a book to miss!(less)
Gen is a thief, and he's been thrown in the King's prison for bragging that he can steal anything, including the king's seal. He's lost track of how l...moreGen is a thief, and he's been thrown in the King's prison for bragging that he can steal anything, including the king's seal. He's lost track of how long he's been in prison when the king's most trusted adviser, the magus, offers him a deal: steal the stone that will allow the king to steal a neighboring kingdom, or else.
Although I might have wished at times that the journey to the stone had been a little bit shorter, in the end it all makes perfect sense. That's my way of saying to keep reading if the start feels slow. The pace picks up quite a bit once the journey is over, and I guarantee you'll close this book with a smile on your face.
The highlight of this book is absolutely the character of Gen, who complains his way through the first half of the book without ever being whiny. He smells, he's dirty, he's weak from being in prison, and he is always, always, one step ahead of everyone else. You'll finish this book and want to immediately start the next one, if only to learn more about Gen.
Amazing. Basketball, the Irish mob, a boy from outer space, family secrets, and Harry Potter are just the start of this excellent new novel from Matth...moreAmazing. Basketball, the Irish mob, a boy from outer space, family secrets, and Harry Potter are just the start of this excellent new novel from Matthew Quick. (less)
The real Ivan lived at the B & I in Tacoma. We went there as kids, but I don't really remember Ivan. My mom says he always looked very sad and lon...moreThe real Ivan lived at the B & I in Tacoma. We went there as kids, but I don't really remember Ivan. My mom says he always looked very sad and lonely. (less)