From School Library Journal
Grade 7–10—This sequel to Murdock's Dairy Queen
(Houghton, 2006) catches readers up with narrator D.J. Schwenk as she hits her stride in her junior year of high school. She's playing linebacker for her high school football team, hanging out with Brian (the rival high school's quarterback), earning passing grades, and pulling her weight on her family's struggling dairy farm. But "a whole herd of trouble" is coming her way. First, D.J. and, by extension, Brian become the unwitting subjects of a People
magazine article. Then D.J. suffers a shoulder injury that threatens her sports career, her gay best friend runs away with an older girlfriend, and D.J. notices that Brian isn't too keen on being seen with her in public. These problems are all put into perspective when D.J.'s older brother, Win, suffers a serious spinal-cord injury during a college football game. D.J. stays by his side in the hospital, a task made even tougher by Win's refusal to communicate, and accompanies him to rehab in Minnesota. There's no too-tidy ending here; readers gain a sense of the wait-and-see and grueling nature of physical rehabilitation. Though not as laugh-out-loud funny as the earlier title, The Off Season
depicts a believably maturing D.J., a young woman whose character shines through even as she struggles to find her voice. Readers will root for her at every tragicomic turn, and will hope to hear from her again in future novels.—Amy Pickett, Ridley High School, Folsom, PA
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This funny, touching follow-up to Dairy Queen
(2006), a 2007 Best Book for Young Adults, succeeds whether read on its own or as a sequel. D. J.'s junior year starts off promisingly: she has finally been accepted as a valuable player on the football team, and Brian Nelson, quarterback for a rival school, is still coming around to see her. Storm clouds gather, though, as her close friend is bullied for being gay, money problems on the farm increase, and an injury forces D. J. to choose between football and basketball, which could net her a college scholarship. She also begins to wonder why Brian makes out with her but never wants to take her anywhere. Then brother Winn is seriously injured on the football field, forcing her to gain some much-needed perspective. D. J. is an easygoing, likable narrator, full of self-deprecating humor and insight, and her struggles, whether they are everyday or life altering, will resonate with teen audiences. Krista HutleyCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved