Dairy Queen is set in Wisconsin, where, if I’ve heard correctly, football and dairy farms are very important. This story doesn’t break from that tradition.
D.J. Schwenk is a 15-year-old girl who is basically running the family’s dairy farm because her father broke his hip, her two older brothers are off at college on football scholarships, and her mom is working two jobs; her little brother helps when he can. She’s milking the cows, plowing fields, lifting and throwing bales of hay, mucking the barn, etc. To add to her busy summer, the football coach from the rival high school (who is also her family’s good friend) is sending over his quarterback, Brian, to work at their farm and get trained in the hardworking Schwenk way of life. D. J. ends up training him for football as well, and in training him, realizes that she loves football and decides to try out for her high school football team. This doesn’t help the budding romance between the two teenagers now that they’ll also be rivals on the same field.
Early on in their friendship, before you can call what they have a friendship, Brian compares D.J. to a cow, moving through life without any questions. D.J. struggles with this image of herself throughout the book, finally becoming comfortable in her own skin.
The book deals a lot with D.J.’s family and the issues they have, the main one being that no one ever talks. Her younger brother talks almost never. Her two older brothers haven’t spoken to the family in six months. D.J. herself doesn’t often speak her mind and is often silent, contemplating what to say in her conversations with Brian.
I first spotted this book in the bookstore a few years ago and have always wanted to read it. I’m glad I did. It’s a young-adult novel about a girl figuring out who she is, but she’s not your typical girl, and this isn’t your typical young adult novel. There are two more books in this series: The Off Season and Front and Center.
Rated: Mild. Language: mild, for about a dozen mild expletives and taking the Lord’s name in vain. Sex: mild for a reference to D.J.’s brother getting caught in the barn with a girl once, and a minor character turns out to be gay.