Sara's Reviews > Dairy Queen

Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
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Sep 03, 09

bookshelves: ya-fiction-girly
Read in August, 2009

It's fair to say that I'm prejudiced toward Dairy Queen. I grew up dirt poor on a farm in the boonies, taking care of animals, fighting with my brothers, and dealing with a family in which it was verboten to talk about anything important. When the main character in DQ talks about bucking bales (picking up a 70-pound bale of hay and throwing it UP onto a hay wagon or into the back of a truck), my back aches and the calluses on my hands burn. When she talks about playing football with her brothers and being made fun of by the cheerleader crowd, I start to have flashbacks. It's fair to say that we have a lot in common and I'm a little biased.
The story isn't complicated: beset by illness, the father in the family delegates the running of the farm to his 15-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son. The daughter, enamored by her football experiences with her older brothers and interested in doing something for which she gets credit, trys out for and makes the local football team. Throw in a little romance with a rival quarterback and there's your story. DQ is well-written, which is a real feat, as it's all first-person and quite authentic to the 15-year-old voice. It also has a wonderfully warm undercurrent that speaks to doing something for yourself - finding the place at the very bottom of your personality where you just won't make any more allowances for other people. That theme is at the base of both growing up and growing wise, and DQ explores it both gently and comprehensively.
My only worry is about audience. I teach in an urban high school, and most of the kids here know next to nothing about farming life. The majority of the readers (and libraries) buying books today are urban (which doesn't mean that rural people don't read, it just means that not as many people live in the country as live in cities these days). I hope teachers and others see the value in this Dairy Queen and pass it around.
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