Dairy Queen - Catherine Gilbert Murdock When I picked up Dairy Queen, I wasn't expecting to love it as much as I did because of the awful title (this book has nothing to do with the ice cream chain), ugly cover of a cow with a crown (the international paperback cover is much better), and a synopsis that doesn't capture the heart of the book. D.J.'s relationship with Brian Nelson, and her trying out for the football team despite being a girl both play a major role in this story but you wouldn't know it from reading the blurb on the back. Football is only mentioned twice and only once in relation to D.J. even though it's a major component of her journey towards self-discovery. Although I'm not the biggest football fan, I do tend to enjoy stories about female empowerment in male dominated worlds, and this is certainly one of them. I couldn't help be reminded of the 1990s movie, Little Giants.

The main reason I fell in love with this book was D.J. and her unique narrative voice. She's resilient, tough, and responsible, but like many teenagers she also struggles with issues of self-confidence and self-identity. I found her to be highly relatable despite the fact that I've never struggled with lack of communication or being shouldered with too much responsibility. This is not a book with cardboard cutout, two-dimensional characters. Everyone had their admirable qualities and their flaws. The relationship between D.J. and her family was particularly well written, as was her relationship with Brian Nelson. The two of them had amazing chemistry, and the issues they faced seemed very real. Murdock does a great job of both creating and developing her characters and the relationships between them.

Even though football and farming, two subjects I've never been interested in, are featured quite a bit, I still enjoyed this book. In fact, Murdock was able to take these unappealing subjects and make them interesting. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book to anyone who likes YA fiction.