I liked this a lot, but the pacing was rushed in places. I'm hoping the errors in continuity are fixed before the final. I'll definitely check out lat...moreI liked this a lot, but the pacing was rushed in places. I'm hoping the errors in continuity are fixed before the final. I'll definitely check out later books in this series.(less)
I debated what to rate this. Some of the pieces aren't as good as others. The writing teacher in me wants to call some of the writing undisciplined an...moreI debated what to rate this. Some of the pieces aren't as good as others. The writing teacher in me wants to call some of the writing undisciplined and sit down for a writing conference with Chris Kluwe. At the same time, I stuck a dozen post-its in my copy to mark pages to revisit and to use with my students. The voice is terrific, and Kluwe has a curious mind. In the end, what I liked most about this book is its emphasis on empathy. Even when swearing up a storm, Kluwe never forgets that our world is made up of people. People read this book, people read newspaper editorials, people hear players and coaches and politicians says that those who are gay (or poor or female or whatever) are somehow less, and that REALLY pisses him off. He has my respect for that reason alone.(less)
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)
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)